Article

Evil radioactivity: Subjective perception of radioactivity in patients with thyroid disease prior to treatment with radioiodine

Klinik für Nuklearmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Essen, Hufelandstrasse 55, 45122 Essen.
Nuklearmedizin (Impact Factor: 1.49). 02/2006; 45(5):229-34.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

We assess the perspective of patients with thyroid disease towards radiation and radioactivity by means of a cultural-anthropological approach based on qualitative measures and quantitative scores. From the interviews with the patients we evaluate as to how much radioactivity is accepted as an abstract term or as a benefit within the medical context.
68 patients with autonomously functioning thyroid lesions (35 women, 33 men, 32-81 years) were included in this study. All patients were interviewed in an open dialogue with the principal investigator. Patients were asked to describe their attitude towards radioactivity in general and towards radioiodine therapy in particular. Patients were asked to use a scoring system (1 = positive, 5 = negative) to quantify their attitudes.
The responses of all patients towards radioactivity in general were heterogeneous with most responses reflecting a negative perception. Many patients expressed their associated fears about atomic energy, malignant diseases and radioactive contamination. The scoring system reflected a mostly negative opinion base. However, patients became more positive once they assumed an immediate benefit of radioactivity for the treatment of their own disease (p = 0.01).
Knowing about significant differences in patient's perception about radioactivity in general or in the clinical context may help to optimise and tailor the initial, pre-therapeutical interview towards the patient.

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    ABSTRACT: We assess the attitude of patients with thyroid disease towards radiation and radioactivity before and after radioiodine therapy by means of a cultural-anthropological approach. We evaluate in patient interviews how their subjective attitude towards radioactivity as an abstract term and towards radioactivity in the medical context on the basis of their personal experiences with radionuclide therapy. 29 patients with autonomously functioning thyroid lesions (17 women, 12 men, 35-79 years) were included in this study. All patients were interviewed prior to and 22-27 month post radioiodine therapy in an open dialogue with the principal investigator. Patients were asked to describe their attitude towards radioactivity in general and towards radioiodine therapy in particular. Patients were asked to use a scoring system (1: positive, 5: negative) to quantify their perception of radioactivity. The personal perception of radioactivuty as an abstract term does not change significantly (p = 0.15) before and after radioiodine therapy. This perception is linked to mostly negative impressions of radiactivity. However, patients become more positive when assessing the value of radioactivity as part of their therapy regimen. Thus, we observe a significant increase in percepted value of radioactivity post radioiodine therapy (p = 0.03). Patients continue to view radioactivity as something negative despite treatment success following radioiodine therapy. Our results provide useful information for patient information by the nuclear medicine physician prior to a radioiodine therapy.
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