The Current Status of Radiographers as Screen Readers in Breast Screening Units: Applications for Australia

Wendy Thompson, Karen Pollard

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Abstract

In the United Kingdom's National Health Service BreastScreen Program, three quarters of their screening units have radiographers as one of the two independent screen readers. This has been the case since the early 1990's. Multiple studies confirm the capabilities of radiographers as screen readers and the positive outcomes for the stakeholders. This is not the current practice in BreastScreen Australia despite the chronic and increasing shortage of radiologists in general and in particular radiologists willing to be accredited in BreastScreen. This discrepancy in practice led to a qualitative investigation of the perceptions of radiographers, radiologists and directors involved in BreastScreen Australia and eligible users of the service, regarding the role of radiographers as screen readers. The perceptions of these Australian stakeholders were collected via interviews and personal correspondence. Thematic analysis was conducted on the data and then triangulated with a thematic analysis of the literature. This research demonstrated positive perceptions towards radiographers as screen readers for BreastScreen Australia by the Australian stakeholders. This was supported and reinforced by the literature review, in particular, the U.K. experience of radiographers as screen readers. Therefore, given the advantages of radiographer role extension and increased career opportunities, in conjunction with the increasing workload of the Australian radiologist, it would seem prudent to commence planning for the introduction of non-radiology screen readers in to BreastScreen Australia. This paper provides an initial basis from which to commence discussion and planning by all the Stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalRadiographer
Volume54
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

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