Half of all Americans read at or below an 8th grade reading level making it challenging to understand medical information presented to them. As medical records become more accessible to patients than ever, it is critical to understand exactly what they understand and how they react to the medical terminology. Radiology reports are typically written at a 12th-13th grade reading level. Using a sample radiology report of an outpatient imaging exam (Coronary Calcium CT), this qualitative pilot study looks to find out how we can understand the way patients react to and process the complex medical information that is available to them. Participants were given a sample radiology report and interviewed using a structured question set. Many respondents were confused or uncertain about the results of the radiology report, wanting clarification from a physician. Most indicated they wanted the report to be written in clearer language or include a layman summary. The results of this pilot study indicate that important data can be documented using this style of research. This kind of information can be useful in shaping the way radiology reports are written. However, this was just the first step. Prior to moving forward with a full study, modifications will be made to the question set used to obtain richer data regarding a patient’s understanding of medical test results as well as additional demographic information to better characterize the results.
Beekman, Alexander, "Misreading the Readings: What do Patients Really Understand About Radiology Reports?" (2023). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 488.