Free imaging, altruism motivate imaging research subjects

Patients are motivated to participate in CT-related imaging studies by receiving access to more health information and free imaging, as well as the sense that what they are doing will benefit society, according to a study published in the January issue of Academic Radiology.

Researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles conduced a 12-point study using a questionnaire on 40 subjects who agreed to participate in an cardiovascular CT imaging research study, and 40 who declined to enroll in the study.

The survey addressed how much the following factors affected decisions whether or not to enroll in the study:

  • Additional health information
  • Free imaging
  • Altruistic benefit to society
  • Monetary compensation
  • Radiation exposure
  • Role as an experimental subject
  • Possible loss of confidentiality
  • Contrast or investigational drug use, premedication use
  • Blood draw or intravenous placement
  • Time commitment
  • Personal medical opinion

The researchers found that those subjects that enrolled in the imaging study gave "significantly higher ratings" than non-enrolling subjects to additional health information (4.5 points out of a 5-point scale), free imaging (a 4.1 rating), and the altruistic benefit to society (4.5 rating).

Subjects electing to not enroll in the study expressed concerns about drug use or contrast injection (3.1 rating), premedication (2.9 rating), and time commitment (3.7 rating).

Both groups gave similarly high ratings to radiation exposure and personal medical opinion.

"This information can be used to develop a more conscientious approach to explain these research studies and lead to the modification of recruitment strategies, consent forms, and clinical procedures to meet the expectations of participants," the study's authors said. "Furthermore, the results from this study may provide insights into the typical concerns of patients undergoing CT imaging or other imaging procedures that use ionizing radiation in a clinical, non-research based setting."

The sense of altruism expressed by subjects is not something that should be overlooked. Research, I wrote last summer, plays in integral role in helping to combat the constant threat of inappropriate imaging.

To learn more:
- see the study in Academic Radiology


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