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Content Analysis of General Practitioner Requested Lumbar Spine X-ray Reports.

Thompson, P. W. and Carr, E. C.J., 2007. Content Analysis of General Practitioner Requested Lumbar Spine X-ray Reports. British Journal of Radiology, 80, 866-871.

Full text available as:

BJR-D-06-00422[2].pdf - Draft Version


DOI: 10.1259/bjr/11719131


Aims and Background X-rays of patients with low back pain rarely show serious pathology but frequently reveal incidental age-related changes and always expose people to radiation. Patients who have X-rays are more satisfied but report worse pain and disability. Psychological factors such as illness beliefs,catastrophizing and fear avoidance have been shown to be predictors of chronicity/disability. Authorities suggest that the way X-ray information is transmitted and interpreted by patients may influence outcome, therefore this study was designed to determine the words used by radiologists to describe lumbar spine Xrays. Methods: 120 consecutive X-ray reports for patients referred by primary care physicians were anonymised. A formal summative content analysis was undertaken. The coded words were grouped into categories according to their perceived meaning, and the process was refined until there were only three mutually exclusive categories. Results: Half the sample was aged 60 years or younger. Three categories were identified: anatomical, pathological and descriptive. In the pathological category, 33% of words described normal appearances, 47% described age-related changes and 20% described other features. In only 2% of cases were pathological words used to describe conditions as being "normal for age". Overall, 89 (74%) of the 120 reports contained at least one phrase containing words indicating the presence of degenerative changes. Conclusions: Almost three-quarters of lumbar spine X-ray reports use pathological words such as 'degenerative changes' to describe age-related changes but rarely describe them as being "normal for age".

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:back pain, imaging
Group:Faculty of Health & Social Sciences
ID Code:11564
Deposited By: Dr Eloise Carr LEFT
Deposited On:23 Sep 2009 18:24
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:25


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