Objective: The purpose of this article is to propose a graphical decision aid for managing radiology report information to assist learners in developing clinical decision-making skills through a structured approach.
Methods: A graphical decision aid informed by learning theories was constructed to manage radiology report information by identifying an overall strategy, specific decision-making steps, and decision goals. A review of radiology reports was performed to demonstrate the rich source of complex information requiring clinical decision making. Radiology report data were descriptively analyzed, and findings were described as definite or indefinite, while recommendations were reported as required or optional.
Results: The graphical decision aid involves 4 stages. The 1st 2 stages interpret report information and consider data obtained during the clinical encounter. The following 2 stages guide decisions by answering questions to ensure patient safety and/or to confirm diagnosis and to address broader case management questions. The mean (SD) age of participants whose imaging reports were reviewed was 73.4 (7.0) years. Of 170 reports, common findings included degenerative disc disease (98%), soft tissue or vascular calcification (94%), bone demineralization (92%), and zygapophyseal joint degeneration (86%). Common indefinite findings were spinal stenosis (15%), compression fracture (12%), bony abnormality (12%), radiodensity (12%), and disc degeneration (10%). One hundred twenty-one recommendations suggested follow-up actions.
Conclusions: Information within imaging reports requires identification and interpretation to inform complex clinical decisions. The graphical decision aid proposed in this article is designed to facilitate the development of decision-making skills by providing a structured and evidence-based information management process.
Author keywords: Clinical Decision Making, Low Back Pain, Radiography, Spine
Author affiliations: JCB: Private Practice, Pensacola, Florida; ZKS, BMW, RDV: Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, Davenport, Iowa; YAK: University of Iowa, Davenport, Iowa
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