Knowledge of Radiation Dose and Awareness of Risks: a Cross-sectional Survey of Junior Clinicians

SY Luk, JLY Leung, CS Cheng

Hong Kong J Radiol 2010;13:189-94

Objectives: To investigate among junior clinicians: (1) their level of knowledge and awareness of radiation dose of commonly performed radiological investigations and the associated risks of radiation exposure, and (2) their practice for obtaining informed

consent for examinations involving high-dose radiation.

Methods: A questionnaire dealing targeting knowledge about commonly performed radiological procedures was distributed to clinicians under specialist training in a tertiary hospital. It addressed: (1) relative radiation doses, (2) associated risks of radiation exposure, (3) what they considered when requesting radiological examinations, and (4) their practice of obtaining informed consent for high-dose radiation examinations.

Results: Of 63 respondents, 57% (n = 36) to 90% (n = 57) underestimated the relative radiation dose of commonly performed radiological investigations. In all, 13% (8/63) incorrectly believed that magnetic resonance imaging involved radiation exposure and 5% (3/63) incorrectly believed that ultrasound involved radiation exposure; 98% (62/63) underestimated the 1 in 2000 lifetime risk of developing cancer after computed tomography of the abdomen; 79% (50/63) believed that diagnostic accuracy is the most important factor to consider when requesting radiological examinations; 27% (17/63) stated that they always explain the risks and benefits of radiation exposure to their patients when obtaining informed consent for examinations involving highdose radiation.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated a deficit of knowledge about radiation dose, exposure, and risks among junior clinicians, which may cause them to request more radiological examinations than appropriate and high-dose examinations instead of lower-risk alternatives. Providing better radiation protection training may help improve their basic knowledge on the subject and reduce unnecessary patient exposure to radiation.