Since the discovery of X-rays by Rontgen in 1895, lead (Pb) has been used to limit ionising radiation for both operators and patients due to its high density and high atomic number (Z = 82). This study explores the attitudes and perceptions of diagnostic radiographers applying Pb protection during general radiographic examinations, an area underexplored within a contemporary radiographic environment(s).Methods
This paper presents findings from a wider ethnographic study undertaken in the United Kingdom (UK). The use of participant observation and semi-structured interviews were the methods of choice. Participant observation enabled the overt researcher to uncover whether Pb remained an essential tool for radiographers. Semi-structured interviews later supported or refuted the limited use of Pb protection by radiographers. These methods enabled the construction of original phenomena within the clinical environment.Results
Two themes are discussed. Firstly, radiographers, underpinned by their own values and beliefs towards radiation risk, identify a dichotomy of applying Pb protection. The cessation of Pb may be linked to cultural myths, relying on ‘word of mouth’ of peers and not on the existing evidence-base. Secondly, radiographers acknowledge that protecting pregnant patients may be primarily a ‘personal choice’ in clinical environments, which can alter if a patient requests ‘are you going to cover me up?’Conclusion
This paper concludes by affirming the complexities surrounding Pb protection in clinical environments. It is proposed that the use of Pb protection in general radiography may become increasingly fragmented in the future if radiographers continue rely on cultural norms.