Can Radiologists Learn From Airport Baggage Screening? A Survey About Using Fictional Patients for Quality Assurance

Andrew Phelps, Andrew L. Callen, Peter Marcovici, David M. Naeger, John Mongan, Emily M. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rationale and Objectives: For both airport baggage screeners and radiologists, low target prevalence is associated with low detection rate, a phenomenon known as “prevalence effect.” In airport baggage screening, the target prevalence is artificially increased with fictional weapons that are digitally superimposed on real baggage. This strategy improves the detection rate of real weapons and also allows airport supervisors to monitor screener performance. A similar strategy using fictional patients could be applied in radiology. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to review the psychophysics literature regarding low target prevalence and (2) to survey radiologists’ attitudes toward using fictional patients as a quality assurance tool. Materials and Methods: We reviewed the psychophysics literature on low target prevalence and airport x-ray baggage screeners. An online survey was e-mailed to all members of the Association of University Radiologists to determine their attitudes toward using fictional patients in radiology. Results: Of the 1503 Association of University Radiologists member recipients, there were 153 respondents (10% response rate). When asked whether the use of fictional patients was a good idea, the responses were as follows: disagree (44%), neutral (25%), and agree (31%). The most frequent concern was the time taken away from doing clinical work (89% of the respondents). Conclusions: The psychophysics literature supports the use of fictional targets to mitigate the prevalence effect. However, the use of fictional patients is not a popular idea among academic radiologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-234
Number of pages9
JournalAcademic radiology
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Airport baggage screening
  • prevalence effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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