Structured reporting preferences assessed

Oncologic clinicians prefer communication of lesion measurements in a separate report to the current practice of embedding measurements throughout the “Findings” section of structured reports, according to a study published in the June issue of Academic Radiology.

Many oncologists expect tumor measurements to be made regularly in patients with cancer and these numbers are typically reported in the “Findings” section of reports, combining both qualitative and quantitative assessments of the lesions. Due to the development of new tools for quantitative imaging interpretation that allow for automated structured reporting of measurement data, lead author Adam R. Travis, MD, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, and colleagues aimed to determine whether oncologic clinicians at their institution preferred structured measurement reporting in a dedicated section over the traditional way of reporting.

The researchers surveyed oncologic clinicians and radiologists for their preferences for a standard report versus three separate reports that respectively had uniquely formatted “Measurements” sections. They also questioned their impressions of several characteristics of report quality. In total, the online survey was completed by 25 radiologists, 16 oncologists and 17 oncology nurse and research assistants.

After aggregating the participants’ responses, Travis and colleagues discovered that both oncology groups preferred all proposed reports to the standard. Radiologists, however, only preferred two of the proposed reports. All of the preferences for the proposed reports in the oncology groups were statistically significant after performance of Willcoxon tests, but the preference for only one of the suggested reports was statistically significant for radiologists. These preferences were backed by respondent favor for the readability and confidence of the proposed reports in comparison to the standard.

“Based on these results, it would appear that the form of presentation of measurement data in a report directly influences the confidence with which consumers of reports interpret those measurements,” wrote Travis et al. “As such, we hypothesize that oncology personnel at our institution prefer dedicated ‘Measurements’ sections not only because such sections reproduce their own tabulation of measurement data in the clinical and research settings (according to free-text comments made by some respondents) but also because the clear enumeration of lesions increases the confidence that each is a lesion that will be monitored on future imaging.”

The researchers suggest future research in this area that assesses quantitative imaging reporting preferences among different physicians for different clinical scenarios using reports generated from actual workflow and also evaluates downstream consumer comprehension and clinical impact of different reporting schemes in quantitative imaging.