- Are radiographers an influencing factor in the radiation protection practices of speech-language therapists performing videofluoroscopic swallowing studies?
- Parsotam, H.; Warren-Forward, H.; Shields, M.; McNulty, J.; Shaw Bonilha, H.; O'Toole, C.; Mathisen, B.; Unicomb, R.; Hearne, A.; Pownall, S.
- Radiography Vol. 26, Issue 4, p. e229-e237
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- journal article
- Introduction: A videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) is a fluoroscopic examination conducted by radiographers and speech-language therapists (SLTs) to assess dysphagia. Given the potential of SLTs to feed patients during the procedure, they may be exposed to radiation. The research aimed to assess radiation protection practices utilised by SLTs to determine if radiographers have a role in providing ongoing practical education. Methods: An online questionnaire was distributed to SLTs from six countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States of America). Responses were analysed quantitatively using frequencies and chi-square analysis (p = 0.05) and supported by written comments. Results: A total of 224 responses were analysed. Thyroid shields (94%) were used more frequently than full aprons (72%). Differences (p < 0.0001) were seen between Australian and USA participants regarding the use and position of radiation monitors; 43% of Australian participants stating they always used a monitor, compared to 75% of USA participants. Nearly all Australian SLTs wore monitors under shielding (92%) and at waist level (69%), while USA participants reported wearing them outside shielding (97%) and at thyroid level (94%). Participants’ radiation practice was influenced primarily by other SLTs (64%), followed by radiographers (57%). However, written comments revealed the significance of the radiographer in providing training as “radiographers are excellent at ensuring we [use] right equipment, stand in the right places and use exposure monitoring”. Conclusion: SLTs did not always adopt the ICRP principle of shielding and there were inconsistencies with regards to the use and placement of radiation monitors. Radiographers are well positioned to provide advice with regards to safe practice. Implications for practice: Opportunities to enhance radiation protection practices are evident, as is the advising role of radiographers.
- videofluoroscopic swallowing study; dysphagia; speech-language therapists; radiation protection; practice
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