Awareness of Risks Reduces Parents’ Desire for CT Scans

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Informing patients of malignancy risks associated with computed tomography scans decreases willingness to proceed with the CT scan.

(HealthDay News) – Willingness to subject children with a head injury to computed tomography (CT) scans decreases once parents are informed of lifetime malignancy risks associated with the scans, but most are still willing to proceed with head CT, according to a study published online July 8 in Pediatrics.

Kathy Boutis, MD, from The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and colleagues conducted a prospective cross-sectional survey of 742 parents (61.2% female) whose children presented to a tertiary care pediatric emergency department with a head injury regarding their willingness to proceed with recommended CT after risk disclosure.

The researchers found that 46.8% of parents were aware of the potential for an increased lifetime malignancy risk associated with CT. The proportion of parents who were “very willing/willing” to proceed with head CT was 90.4% before disclosure of the risk, and decreased significantly to 69.6% after disclosure. A total 5.6% refused the CT. Nearly all parents (90.3%) reported that they wanted to be informed of potential malignancy risks.

“We found that approximately half of participating parents were aware of the potential lifetime increase in malignancy risk associated with CT and most underestimated the risk of CT,” the authors write. “In addition, despite many parents demonstrating a decreased willingness to proceed with CT imaging after risk disclosure, almost all were agreeable to pursuing a discussion with their physician in the face of clinical need.”

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