Portrayal of radiology in a major medical television series: How does it influence the perception of radiology among patients and radiology professionals?



To assess how the portrayal of Radiology on medical TV shows is perceived by patients and radiology professionals.


In this IRB-approved study with patient consent waived, surveys were conducted among adult patients scheduled for radiological examinations and radiology professionals. The questionnaire investigated medical TV watching habits including interest in medical TV shows, appearance of radiological examination/staff, radiology’s role in diagnosis-making, and rating of the shows’ accuracy in portraying radiology relative to reality.


One hundred and twenty-six patients and 240 professionals (133 technologists, 107 radiologists) participated. 63.5 % patients and 63.2 % technologists rated interest in medical TV shows ≥5 (scale 1-10) versus 38.3 % of radiologists. All groups noted regular (every 2nd/3rd show) to >1/show appearance of radiological examinations in 58.5-88.2 % compared to 21.0-46.2 % for radiological staff appearance. Radiology played a role in diagnosis-making regularly to >1/show in 45.3-52.6 %. There is a positive correlation for interest in medical TV and the perception that radiology is accurately portrayed for patients (r = 0.49; P = 0.001) and technologists (r = 0.38; P = 0.001) but not for radiologists (r = 0.01).


The majority of patients perceive the portrayed content as accurate. Radiologists should be aware of this cultivation effect to understand their patients’ behaviour which may create false expectations towards radiological examinations and potential safety hazards.

Key points

Radiology in medical TV shows is conveyed as important in diagnosis making

Presence of radiological staff is less frequent compared to examinations shown

Positive correlation for interest in medical TV and radiology perceived as accurate

TV experience may create false expectations and potential safety hazards

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The scientific guarantor of this publication is Tobias Heye. 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.

The authors state that this work has not received any funding. One of the authors has significant statistical expertise. No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained. Written informed consent was waived by the Institutional Review Board. Methodology:Prospective, survey, performed at one institution.

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Correspondence to T. Heye.

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Heye, T., Merkle, E.M., Leyendecker, J.R. et al. Portrayal of radiology in a major medical television series: How does it influence the perception of radiology among patients and radiology professionals?. Eur Radiol 26, 2863–2869 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00330-015-4079-3

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  • Medical TV shows
  • Radiology
  • Patients
  • Portrayal
  • Survey