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Acad Radiol. 2015 Dec;22(12):1606-11.

Medical Student Usage of the American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria.



Educating medical students on appropriate imaging utilization has been increasingly recognized as important for patient care. The American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria (ACR-AC) is designed to support evidence-based imaging examination selection. We sought to assess whether medical students order imaging studies independently, what resources they use for guidance, and whether they use the ACR-AC in clinical practice. A secondary aim was to determine whether increasing familiarity with the ACR-AC could impact student usage.


We surveyed third year medical students at a single institution on their imaging practices, familiarity with the ACR-AC, and preferences among available resources to guide proper examination selection. The survey was performed in person before a lecture. We also designed a brief intervention to improve familiarity with the ACR-AC and then reassessed students to determine any effect on utilization.


The response rate for the initial survey was 103 of 109 (94%) and the response rate for the second survey was 99 of 109 (91%).Our initial survey found students initiated imaging orders independently (74 of 100, 74.8%) and consulted resources to assist in examination selection (50 of 74, 67.6%). Students expressed a preference for non-ACR-AC resources, notably Up to Date via its online mobile application.Few students (8 of 71, 11.3%) were familiar with the ACR-AC. After an intervention to increase familiarity with the ACR-AC, student awareness of the ACR-AC increased to 61 of 74 (82.4%). However, usage among those familiar with the resource remained low, 13 of 61(21.3%) versus 3 of 8 (37.5%).


Use of the ACR-AC was low among third year medical students. After increasing students' familiarity with the ACR-AC, their usage in a clinical setting did not increase. The largest barrier to use may be the lack of a quick, easy to use online mobile application-based interface.

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