European Radiology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 224–231 | Cite as

Direct communication between radiologists and patients following imaging examinations. Should radiologists rethink their patient care?

  • Andreas Gutzeit
  • Regine Heiland
  • Sonja Sudarski
  • Johannes M. Froehlich
  • Klaus Hergan
  • Matthias Meissnitzer
  • Sebastian Kos
  • Peter Bertke
  • Orpheus Kolokythas
  • Dow M. Koh
Magnetic Resonance



To investigate patients’ perception of the radiology service when the radiologist communicates the findings to patients.


After routine MRI, patients in group 1 (n = 101) were given the opportunity to discuss the findings with the radiologist. Patients in group 2 (n = 101) left the radiology department without any personal communication. Subsequently, by means of a questionnaire designed by an expert psychologist, both groups were asked regarding their anxiety, emotional attachment to the institute and subjective assessment of competence.


Overall 76 % of all patients were concerned about their imaging findings without significant difference between both groups (p = 0.179). Significantly more patients in group 1 (81%) versus group 2 (14%; p < 0.001) perceived the opportunity to discuss their imaging findings with a radiologist to be a characteristic of a good radiology consultation. A larger number of patients in group 1 experienced significantly higher bonding and only wanted in the future to be examined in the department with communication (p = 0.001) (93%/75%). Significantly more patients in group 1 regarded the radiology department they attended as being more competent (mean score 4.72/4.09, p < 0.001).


Direct communication of imaging findings from radiologists to patients after an MRI examination leads to increased confidence in the radiology service and higher bonding between the patient and radiologist. Radiologists who refrain from direct communication have a lower bonding to patients and are assessed to have lower competence from the patient’s point of view.

Key Points

• Communication between radiologists and patients leads to an increased bonding affinity.

• Direct communication leads to increased patient confidence in the radiology service.

• Patients perceived discussion with a radiologist of high value.


Communication Anxiety Psychology Surveys Questionnaires 



Deep thanks are due to Friedemann Schulz von Thun from Hamburg in Germany, who is an important scientist and teacher of psychology and communication. The education in his institute opened our minds in many aspects.

We would like to thank our medical technologists, who try to improve good communication practice doing the best possible for our patients.

We thank Nicole Graf, who has supported us as a professional statistician in the evaluations (


The authors state that this work has not received any funding.

Compliance with ethical standards


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Andreas Gutzeit.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.

Statistics and biometry

Nicole Graf kindly provided statistical advice for this manuscript.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects (patients) in this study.

Ethical approval

Institutional review board approval was obtained.


• prospective

• randomised controlled trial

• performed at one institution


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Gutzeit
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Regine Heiland
    • 4
  • Sonja Sudarski
    • 5
    • 6
  • Johannes M. Froehlich
    • 2
    • 3
  • Klaus Hergan
    • 1
  • Matthias Meissnitzer
    • 1
  • Sebastian Kos
    • 2
  • Peter Bertke
    • 7
  • Orpheus Kolokythas
    • 8
  • Dow M. Koh
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyParacelsus Medical University SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  2. 2.Institute of Radiology and Nuclear MedicineHirslanden Klinik St. AnnaLucerneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, Institute of Pharmaceutical SciencesETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.elbdialog GbR; Schulz von Thun Institute, Institute for CommunicationHamburgGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Clinical Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, University Medical Center Mannheim, Medical Faculty MannheimHeidelberg UniversityMannheimGermany
  6. 6.DZHK (German Centre for Cardiovascular Research) partner site MannheimMannheimGermany
  7. 7.Department of Internal MedicineHirslanden Klinik St. AnnaLucerneSwitzerland
  8. 8.Department of RadiologyUniversity WashingtonSeattleUSA
  9. 9.Department of RadiologyRoyal Marsden HospitalSurreyUK

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