Breaking Bad News: A Survey of Radiology Residents' Experiences Communicating Results to Patients

Anand Narayan, Sergio Dromi, Adam Meeks, Erin Gomez, Bonmyong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The practice of radiology often includes routine communication of diagnostic test results directly to patients in breast imaging and interventional radiology. There is increasing interest in expanding direct communication throughout radiology. Though these conversations can substantially affect patient well-being, there is limited evidence indicating that radiology residents are specifically taught methods to effectively convey imaging results to patients. Our purpose is to evaluate resident experience communicating imaging results to patients. Materials and Methods: An IRB-approved study with a total of 11 pilot-tested questions was used. Surveyed programs included radiology residents (PGY2-PGY5) at 2 urban residency programs. Online surveys were administered using SurveyMonkey and e-mailed to residents at both programs (starting November 20, 2015, completed March 31, 2016). Demographics were obtained with survey proportions compared using logistic regression (P < 0.05, statistically significant). Results: A total of 73 residents responded (93.6% response rate) with similar response rates at each institution (P = 0.689). Most were male (71.2%) with 17.8% planning to go into breast imaging (21.9%, interventional radiology (IR)). Furthermore, 83.6% described no training in communicating radiology results to patients; 91.8% of residents communicated results with patients (87.7% diagnostic imaging tests and 57.5% biopsies). Residents most commonly communicated results in person (75.3%) followed by phone (64.4%), and 79.4% agreed or strongly agreed that additional training relaying results would be helpful. Conclusions: A large majority of radiology residents have communicated test results to patients, yet few have received training in how to communicate these results. A large majority of residents expressed interest in obtaining additional communication training. Additional research is required to determine ideal methods to educate residents on communicating test results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Problems in Diagnostic Radiology
StateAccepted/In press - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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