Methods Used by General Practitioners to Interpret Chest Radiographs at District Hospitals in the City of Tshwane, South Africa

Khethiwe Margaret Sethole, Elsje Rudman, Lynne Janette Hazell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: A chest radiograph is one of the first-line diagnostic tools for general practitioners (GPs) to diagnose, monitor treatment, and predict the outcomes of diseases. In district hospitals, after clinical examination, GPs refer patients for imaging in the X-ray department. Radiologists specialize in interpretation of radiographs and provide a gold standard radiologist report to help diagnose support and influence patient management. A shortage of radiologists restricts continuity in radiology services and causes a delay in diagnosis, compromising the overall quality of service to patients. GPs are mandated to perform image interpretation on all chest radiographs taken at district hospitals and they sometimes request assistance from radiographers. Aim: The aim of this study was to explore methods used by GPs to interpret chest radiographs at district hospitals in the City of Tshwane, in South Africa. Methods: A qualitative, exploratory, and descriptive case study method of inquiry, with convenience sampling was used. Under discussion, the case studies were reconstructed in terms of themes. Recurring themes in these case studies were expounded and linked within the literature. Results: Results obtained from a sample of 15 participants showed that GPs used a free global search to scan radiographs without a preconceived orderly pattern. Their only training on image interpretation occurred during undergraduate education and training. Conclusions: It was concluded that the methods used by GPs for interpretations of chest radiographs were not systematic in approach, resulting in omission in identifying abnormalities in some structures of the chest/thoracic region. The researcher recommends that all GPs need continuous in-house training to acquire the knowledge of the systematic method of evaluating chest radiographs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-279
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • general practitioner
  • Image interpretation
  • method
  • primary health care
  • radiologist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Imaging


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