Radiologist consultation improves patients' LCS attitudes

Consulting with a radiologist boosts patients' attitudes towards lung cancer screening (LCS) and their interest in quitting smoking, researchers have reported.

A team led by Alex Thomas, a medical student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, found that a short consultation between radiologists and patients -- during which the patient's LCS results were reviewed -- not only improved patients' understanding of the screening exam but also motivated them toward smoking cessation. The results were published April 17 in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology.

"LCS using LDCT is a powerful tool in the fight against lung cancer and has been shown to significantly decrease lung cancer-related mortality," the team wrote, and noted that although radiologists are a key part of the lung cancer screening process due to their review and interpretation of images, "they do not routinely discuss findings from LDCT with patients … [and] could play an important role in such interactions with patients."

Thomas and colleagues developed and tested a patient-radiologist consultation protocol for individuals scheduled for lung cancer screening (LCS), hypothesizing that the intervention would improve patients' attitudes both toward LCS and toward quitting smoking. The project included 38 patients who underwent LCS between June 2022 to August 2022; 33 of these were African American, a population that tends to be at higher risk of lung cancer. Of the study participants, 20 were current and 18 were former smokers.

The intervention consisted of a five- to 10-minute consultation with a radiologist who offered a preliminary interpretation of LDCT findings as well as smoking cessation counseling. The meetings took place in a radiology reading room immediately after imaging. Patients completed surveys both pre- and postintervention that solicited their attitudes toward lung cancer screening and quitting smoking.

The team found the following:

Effects of radiologist consultation on patient interest in LCS, smoking cessation
Measure Preconsultation Postconsultation
Interest in viewing LCS imaging results 86.8% 100%
Knowledge of LCS protocol/logistics 71.1% 89.5%
Level of motivation among current smokers to quit smoking 90% 100%

"[Our project employed] a novel paradigm with the radiologist providing a preliminary interpretation of patients’ LCS findings during an imaging review session … immediately following LDCT acquisition," the group noted. "To our knowledge, [it] is the first of its kind that provided immediate preliminary interpretation of LDCT to patients. The ability for patients to visualize their LDCT images directly with a radiologist as a potential smoking cessation strategy is also a novel aspect of this project."

The study highlights radiologists' effectiveness as lung cancer screening and smoking cessation advocates, according to the authors.

"Incorporating LCS consultations with radiologists as part of patient-centered care provides a resource to educate patients on their own LCS imaging findings while promoting LCS adherence and smoking cessation," they concluded.

The complete study can be found here.

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