Influence of radiology report format on reading time and comprehension

J Digit Imaging. 2012 Feb;25(1):63-9. doi: 10.1007/s10278-011-9424-8.


This study examined whether radiology report format influences reading time and comprehension of information. Three reports were reformatted to conventional free text, structured text organized by organ system, and hierarchical structured text organized by clinical significance. Five attending radiologists, five radiology residents, five internal medicine attendings, and five internal medicine residents read the reports and answered a series of questions about them. Reading was timed and participants reported reading preferences. For reading time, there was no significant effect for format, but there was for attending versus resident, and radiology versus internal medicine. For percent correct scores, there was no significant effect for report format or for attending versus resident, but there was for radiology versus internal medicine with the radiologists scoring better overall. Report format does not appear to impact viewing time or percent correct answers, but there are differences in both for specialty and level of experience. There were also differences between the four groups of participants with respect to what they focus on in a radiology report and how they read reports (skim versus read in detail). There may not be a "one-size-fits-all" radiology report format as individual preferences differ widely.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Comprehension*
  • Documentation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiology / education
  • Research Report
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*