Knowledge, attitude and perception on radiation imaging among children's caregivers in the pediatric dental clinic
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OBJECTIVE: Nuclear medicine provides important clinical information for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Use of medical imaging has gradually increased in the United States and this has raised health concerns about the potential future risks associated with radiation exposure in children. While studies have evaluated the adverse effects of imaging procedures, there is insufficient evidence about communicating radiation risks. The overall purpose of this paper is to review radiation risks in pediatric imaging using published evidence by the World Health Organization and to evaluate the knowledge and attitude of caregivers towards radiation risks in pediatric imaging. Specifically, we aim to determine whether an educational brochure improves parental knowledge of radiation and/or changes in attitude and perception to allow their children to undergo dental radiographs. METHODS: A prospective sample survey was performed of caregivers who presented with their child to the Boston University Pediatric Oral Healthcare Center. Parents or legal guardians (18 years or older) who accompanied a child were eligible for inclusion and approached for enrollment. Pre- and post-survey questionnaires were used to evaluate parents’ or guardians’ level of knowledge and attitude about the risks and benefits of dental radiographs. Parents were also asked their comfort level to allow their child to undergo dental radiographs. After completing the pre-survey questionnaire, parents were asked to read the English-language informational handout. Statistical analysis was performed through Microsoft Excel 2013. Descriptive analysis was conducted to summarize the survey responses. RESULTS: Among 30 parents who were surveyed, a small proportion (30%) of parents were very comfortable with dentist using dental radiographs on their child, versus 57% after reading the handout. Results showed that the informational handout improved the parental knowledge of risks and benefits of ionizing radiation. Most parents indicated that the handout was helpful and they reported increased level of comfort and willingness in their children receiving radiation imaging during dental treatment procedures. DISCUSSION: Educating parents or caregivers through an informational handout is a helpful resource in improving their knowledge and in relieving their concerns. Informing parents about the risks of ionizing radiation does not change parental willingness for their children to undergo dental radiographs.