Radiographers’ professional practice : a Swedish perspective

Abstract: The general aim of this thesis was to empirically describe the radiographers’ professional scope in diagnostic imaging from the viewpoint of the practitioners and investigate how technical development affects the relations and actions in this practice.Data was collected by interviews and observations to both studies at the same time with two different aims. Eight radiographers (n=8) were interviewed. The interviews were open in character, were recorded with a digital voice recorder, and transcribed verbatim by the interviewer. The interview guide consisted of four interview questions. The observations of radiographers during their work with Computer Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) were conducted in a middle-sized radiology department in the southern part of Sweden. The observations were ten (n=10) in total.Two different theoretical perspectives were used: phenomenology (Study I) and practice theory perspective (Study II). Data was analysed with a phenomenological method in Study I. In Study II data was firstly analysed inductively, which resulted in seven codes. Secondly, abduction was made by interpretation of these codes from a practice theory perspective. This led to four themes.The findings in Study I display the main aspect of the radiographers’ work with image production. Their general tasks and responsibilities can be viewed as a process with the goal of producing images that can be used for diagnosis purposes. The process has three different phases: planning the examination, production of images, and evaluation of the image quality. The radiographers experience the production of images as their autonomous professional area.The findings in Study II report how technology development affects the relations between different actors and their actions in the practice of Computer Tomography. Four themes were identified; 1) Changed materiality makes the practical action easier. Radiographers’ practica work with image production has become easier when working with CT  compared to conventional techniques because the CT usually performs the image production in one scan. 2) Changed machines cause conflict between the arrangements of the work and the patients` needs. It is difficult to plan the examination individually for each patient because of the arrangements of the CT practice, i.e. they have little information about the patient before the examination. 3) Changing materiality prefigures learning. The radiographers describe a need for constant learning activities because of the changing procedures for image production and new modalities for image production. If not achieved it may affect their relations with the patients. 4) How the connections between different practices lead to times when practical reasoning is required in the radiography process with CT. The connections between the different professions in CT practice mainly occur through material arrangements because physically they work in different areas. The external arrangements in CT practice pre-figure actions for securing accurate radiation level and image quality. But the radiographers, who meet the patients, have to critically judge the intended actions in relation to clinical observed data to ensure patient safety.