Performance in reading radiographs: Does level of education predict skill?

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Introduction:Previous studies demonstrated lack of progress in electrocardiographic analysis skills with increasing levels of medical education. This study examined radiograph analysis skills, a similar cognitive task, across a range of educational experience: senior medical students (n = 23), family practice residents (n = 16), general practitioners (n = 41), and their family practice educators (n = 7).Methods:Written records of diagnosis or description of abnormalities were used to detect skill in interpreting radiographs. The instrument was 12 sets of radiographs: 2 normal and 6 abnormal chest radiographs and 2 normal and 2 greenstick radial fractures.Results:The mean score for correctly diagnosing all 12 sets of radiographs was 5.59 ± 1.68. and the mean score for correctly diagnosing the 4 normal radiographs as normal and the abnormal radiographs as abnormal was 8.76 ± 1.55. There was no statistically significant difference between the four groups of participants.Discussion:Skill level in interpreting radiographs did not appear to improve with additional experiential training and may require a more formal educational approach to address this issue.

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