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The ‘radiographer-referrer game’: image interpretation dynamics in rural practice


Squibb, KA and Smith, A and Dalton, L and Bull, R, The ‘radiographer-referrer game’: image interpretation dynamics in rural practice, Journal of Medical Radiation Sciences, 63, (1) pp. 17-22. ISSN 2051-3909 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1002/jmrs.152


Introduction: Effective interprofessional communication is intrinsic to safe health care. Despite the identified positive impact of collaborative radiographic interpretation between rural radiographers and referrers, communication difficulties still exist. This article describes the strategies that Australian rural radiographers use for communication of their radiographic opinion to the referring doctor.

Methods: In a two-phase interpretive doctoral study completed in 2012, data were collected from radiographers working in rural New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania using a paper based questionnaire followed by in-depth semistructured interviews. Data were analysed thematically in order to identify, analyse and report the emergent themes.

Results: The overarching theme was Patient Advocacy, where in the interest of patient care radiographers took measures to ensure that a referring doctor did not miss radiographic abnormalities. Strong interprofessional relationships enabled direct communication pathways. Interprofessional boundaries shaped by historical hierarchical relationships, together with a lack of confidence and educational preparation for radiographic interpretation result in barriers to direct communication pathways. These barriers prompted radiographers to pursue indirect communication pathways, such as side-stepping and hint and hope.

Conclusion: A lack of formal communication pathways and educational preparation for this role has resulted in radiographers playing the radiographer–referrer game to overtly or covertly assist referrers in reaching a radiographic diagnosis. The findings from this study may be used to plan interventions for strengthening interprofessional communication pathways and improve quality of healthcare for patients.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:radiography referrer game
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Health services and systems not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Squibb, KA (Dr Kathryn Squibb)
UTAS Author:Dalton, L (Dr Lisa Dalton)
UTAS Author:Bull, R (Professor Rosalind Bull)
ID Code:103678
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Health Sciences
Deposited On:2015-10-26
Last Modified:2017-11-03
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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