Understanding patient experience can help curb unneeded tests

When providers make efforts to better understand patients' experiences during imaging tests, it can help them decide whether or not these tests are necessary during care, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology found.

"To promote judicious use of imaging tests, initiatives to better understand patients' experiences of these tests are vital," the researchers wrote. "This could facilitate the design and development of tools that enable physicians and patients to navigate the complexities of decision-making together, taking into account patient-centered outcomes."

The researchers interviewed 45 patients from four primary clinics and asked them to describe their experience of having an X-ray, CT, MRI or ultrasound in the last year. Of these patients, 30 had a diagnostic imaging test and 15 underwent imaging for screening or monitoring.  

The interviewees revealed four themes related to patient-centered outcomes: knowledge gained from the imaging test, its contribution to their healthcare journey, physical experiences during the test and effects of the testing process on emotions.  

"Measurement and reporting patient-centered outcomes should be considered more often in diagnostic research, the researchers said. "Tools for providers and patients to discuss and utilize these outcomes may help promote shared decision-making around the use and impact of imaging tests."

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