Direct disclosure by radiologists of imaging findings to patients: a survey of radiologists and medical staff members

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1996 Nov;167(5):1091-3. doi: 10.2214/ajr.167.5.8911156.


Objective: A previous survey revealed that patients prefer to hear the results of imaging examinations from radiologists at the time of the procedure rather than be informed later by the referring physician. This study was performed to learn, by means of questionnaires, the attitudes of members of medical staff and of radiologists.

Subjects and methods: Questionnaires were sent to members of the medical staff at my institution and to private and academic radiologists throughout the country. Respondents were presented with this statement: "If an adult patient who knows why a radiologic examination is being performed and what is being sought asks to know the results from the radiologist, the radiologist should answer truthfully (and immediately contact the referring physician with the results and the fact that the patient has been informed)." Five alternatives were presented: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neutral, 4 = disagree, and 5 = strongly disagree. Results were tabulated by department in the first instance and by state and character of practice in the second. The sum of the replies in each area was divided by the number replying to obtain a mean figure.

Results: The mean figure for members of medical staff was 2.35, which was on the agree side of neutral, indicating at least neutrality, leaning toward agreement, on the subject. The overall mean figure of 2.18 for radiologists indicates substantial agreement with the stated proposition.

Conclusion: This study suggests that radiologists and referring physicians alike tend to support the proposition that, if asked, radiologists should disclose the results of imaging studies to patients.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Family Practice
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff, Hospital*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Private Practice
  • Radiology*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • United States