Radiographers’ Professional Competence : Development of a context-specific instrument
Abstract: Aims: The overall aim of this thesis was to explore and describe radiographers‟ professional competence based on patients‟ and radiographers‟ experiences and to develop a context-specific instrument to assess the level and frequency of use of radiographers‟ professional competence.Methods: The design was inductive and deductive. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. The data collection methods comprised interviews (Studies I-II) and questionnaires (Studies III-IV). The subjects were patients in study I and radiographers in studies II-IV. In study I, 17 patients were interviewed about their experiences of the encounter during radiographic examinations and treatment. The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis. In study II, 14 radiographers were interviewed to identify radiographers‟ areas of competence. The critical incident technique was chosen to analyse the interviews. Studies III and IV were based on a national cross-sectional survey of 406 randomly selected radiographers. Study III consisted of two phases; designing the Radiographer Competence Scale (RCS) and evaluation of its psychometric properties. A 42-item questionnaire was developed and validated by a pilot test (n=16) resulting in the addition of 12 items. Thus the final RCS comprised a 54-item questionnaire, which after psychometric tests was reduced to 28 items. In study IV, the 28-item questionnaire served as data. The level of competencies was rated on a 10-point scale, while their use was rated on a six-point scale.Results: In study I, the female patients‟ comprehensive understanding was expressed as feelings of vulnerability. The encounters were described as empowering, empathetic, mechanical and neglectful, depending on the radiographers‟ skills and attitudes. Study II revealed two main areas of professional competence, direct patient-related and indirect patient-related. The first focused on competencies in the care provided in close proximity to the patient and the second on competencies used in the activities of the surrounding environment. Each of the two main areas was divided into four categories and 31 sub-categories that either facilitated or hindered good nursing care. In study III the analysis condensed the 54-item questionnaire in two steps, firstly by removing 12 items and secondly a further 14 items, resulting in the final 28-item RCS questionnaire. Several factor analyses were performed and a two factor-solution emerged, labelled; “Nurse initiated care” and “Technical and radiographic processes”. The psychometric tests had good construct validity and homogeneity. The result of study IV demonstrated that most competencies in the RCS received high ratings both in terms of level and frequency of use. Competencies e.g. „Adequately informing the patient‟, „Adapting the examination to the patient‟s prerequisites and needs‟ and „Producing accurate and correct images‟ were rated the highest while „Identifying and encountering the patient in a state of shock‟ and „Participating in quality improvement regarding patient safety and care‟ received the lowest ratings. The total score of each of the two dimensions had a low but significant correlation with age and years in present position. The competence level correlated with age and years in present position in both dimensions but not with the use of competencies in the “Nurse initiated care” dimension.Conclusion: This thesis has shown that professional competence is important in the encounter between patient and radiographer. It has also demonstrated that radiographers‟ self-rated professional competence is based on nursing, technological and radiographic knowledge. From a radiographer‟s perspective, „Nurse initiated care‟ and „Technical and Radiographic processes‟ are two core dimensions of Radiographer Competence Scale. The 28-item questionnaire regarding level and frequency of use of competence is feasible to use to measure radiographers‟ professional competence.
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