Enhancing clinician and patient understanding of radiology reports: a scoping review of international guidelines

Insights Imaging. 2020 May 5;11(1):62. doi: 10.1186/s13244-020-00864-9.


Imaging reports are the primary method of communicating diagnostic imaging findings between the radiologist and the referring clinician. Guidelines produced by professional bodies provide guidance on content and format of imaging reports, but the extent to which they consider comprehensibility for referring clinicians and their patients is unclear. The objective of this review was to determine the extent to which radiology reporting guidelines consider comprehensibility of imaging reports for referring clinicians and patients.We performed a scoping review of English-language diagnostic imaging reporting guidelines. We searched electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, Embase) and websites of radiological professional organisations to identify guidelines. The extent to which the guidelines recommended essential report features such as technical information, content, format and language, as well as features to enhance comprehensibility, such as lay language summaries, was recorded.Six guidelines from professional bodies representing radiologists from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Hong Kong, the UK and Europe were identified from the search. Inconsistencies exist between guidelines in their recommendations, and they rarely consider that patients may read the report. No guideline made recommendations about the reporting of results considering the clinical context, and none recommended features preferred by patients such as lay language summaries. This review identifies an opportunity for future radiology reporting guidelines to give greater consideration to referring clinician and patient preferences.

Keywords: Comprehension; Diagnostic imaging; Guidelines as topic; Radiology; Review.

Publication types

  • Review