Eye-tracking differences between free text and template radiology reports: a pilot study

De Angelo Harris, David M. Yousem, Elizabeth A. Krupinski, Mina Motaghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: One possible limitation of structured template radiology reports is that radiologists look back and forth between viewing and dictation monitors, thereby impacting the length of time spent reviewing images and generating a report. We hypothesize that the total time spent viewing case images is diminished and/or the total time spent creating a report is prolonged when the report is generated using a structured template compared with free text format. Approach: Three neuroradiologists and three senior residents viewed five brain magnetic resonance imaging cases with unique findings while eye position was recorded. Participants generated reports for each case utilizing both structured templates and free text dictation. The time spent viewing images was compared with the time spent looking at the dictation screen. Results: The two main hypotheses were confirmed: the total time viewing images diminished with templates versus free text dictation and the total time to create a report was prolonged with templates. The mean time (s) spent on the "image"region of interest approached statistical significance as a function of the report type [free: attendings = 236.79 (154.43), residents = 223.55 (77.79); template: attendings = 163.40 (73.42), residents = 182.48 (77.47)] and was overall lower with the template reporting for both attendings and residents (F = 3.77, p = 0.0623), but it did not differ as a function of seniority (F = 0.017, p = 0.8977). Conclusions: Template-based radiology reports have significant potential to alter the way radiologists view images and report on them, spending more time viewing the report monitor rather than diagnostic images compared with free text dictation. Many radiologists prefer templates for reporting as the structured format may aid in conducting a more systematic or thorough search for findings, although prior work on this assumption is mixed. Future eye-tracking studies could further elucidate whether and how templates and free reports impact the detection and classification of radiographic findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberS11902
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023


  • preferences
  • radiology report format
  • visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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