Effect of Noise on the Detection of Rib Fractures by Residents

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The authors assessed the effect of noise on the detectability of rib fractures by residents.


Eight radiology residents read chest posterior-anterior radiographs of 92 subjects with rib fracture(s) and 28 normal subjects to detect rib fracture(s) according to a five-point scale of confidence, under quiet and “noisy” conditions. Each individual's attitude toward noise was measured by a multiple-choice questionnaire.


The readers were divided into two groups depending on the questionnaire result: group A readers were accustomed to a quiet environment, and group B readers were accustomed to noisy environments or were unaffected by noise. Group A's performance, measured by the area (Az) under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, was better in quiet conditions when compared with their performance in noisy conditions; however, the opposite tendency was observed for group B. There was a significant individual difference of performance in response to noise.


Effect of noise on the detection of rib fractures depends on an individual's attitude toward sound and noise.

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