The effect of an on-site radiology facility on radiologic utilization in family practice

J Fam Pract. 1987 Jun;24(6):619-23.


Family physicians around the world are increasing their use of diagnostic x-ray examinations at a time of controversy about radiologic overutilization. To explore the role of accessibility in utilization, a study was undertaken testing the hypothesis that on-site radiology facilities are an important determinant of usage. Using a historical cohort design with chart review, rates in selected groups of patients were compared between two teaching family medicine centers, one with an on-site radiology service and one without. After controlling for confounding variables, patients with chest-related diagnoses were 2.4 times more likely (P less than .05) to have a chest film in the presence of on-site facilities. Rates for the off-site examination, upper gastrointestinal series, in patients with abdominal-related diagnoses were similar (relative risk 1.34, P greater than .5) at both centers. Higher usage brought no short-term clinical benefit. It was also observed that residents overinterpreted one quarter of chest films when compared with radiologists' reports.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Centers
  • Digestive System / diagnostic imaging
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physicians' Offices
  • Radiography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiography, Thoracic / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiology*