Text and Picture Notes Improve Patient’s Understanding of Mammography Reports

June 28, 2020

Patients rate mammogram reports with annotations as easier to comprehend.

Patients have an easier time understanding mammogram reports that include text and picture notes than radiology reports that do not include explanations, according to research presented at SIIM 2020.

As an increasing number of patients now have access to their breast imaging reports via patient portals, investigators from the University of Pennsylvania hypothesized they would be better able to comprehend their test results if the reports also included text and illustrations rather than only definitions or only illustrations.

To test their theory, they surveyed 300 women with an average age of 43.6 about the complexity of mammography reports. First, the participants were asked to rate, on a scale of 1-to-5, how difficult an original unannotated mammogram report was to read. They were, then, asked to do the same thing for three different versions of the report: text-only, pictures-only, and text-and-pictures.

Related Content: Evolution of Radiology Reports: Getting Information To the Patient

According to the results, the women, 70 percent of whom had at least a college degree and 64 percent of whom had undergone at least one mammogram, rated the difficulty level of the original report at 2.9. They rated the text-only and pictures-only versions as 2.1 and 2.6, respectively. The text-and-pictures report received a 2.3 rating.

“Understanding was significantly better for the ‘text only’ reported compared to the ‘pictures only’ version, although there was no difference between the ‘text and picture’ version and either of the other two annotated versions,” the researchers said.

Additionally, when the team isolated responses from women at least 50-years-old – 95 percent of whom had had a mammogram previously – there was still a statistically significant difference in their ease of understanding between the original report and the annotated versions.

For more coverage of SIIM2020, click here.