An online survey investigating australian radiation therapists' responses to hypothetical dilemmas concerning impaired fitness to practise

Caroline A Wright, Michal E Schneider, Brian C Jolly, Marilyn A Baird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Introduction: Impairment in health care professionals has been identified as one of the determinants of fitness to practise (FTP), and practitioners have a legal obligation to notify regulatory authorities if they experience it. However, there remains confusion as to how radiation therapists (RTs) discern what constitutes impaired practice and how they would respond to such dilemmas. The aim of this study was to identify the range of responses to hypothetical professional impairment dilemmas, which may inform an educational strategy for improving reporting occurrences. Methods: A convenience sample of Australian RTs was invited to participate in an anonymous online survey that presented a range of FTP dilemmas relating to impairment, competence, and values/ethics. Participants were asked to describe how they would deal with such situations. Qualitative responses were coded using NVivo software. This article reports on the themes that emerged from the impairment dilemmas. Results: One hundred eighty-two RTs responded to the survey. The emerging key theme and subthemes included dealing with the situation, removal of the practitioner from the situation, stop working, avoiding responsibility, giving the benefit of the doubt, and carrying on with the workload. Conclusions: Practitioners interpretations of the impairment dilemmas varied, which, in turn, influenced their suggestions of how they would deal with them. The continuum of responses supports a key tenant of the interpretive paradigm?multiple interpretations of social phenomena exist. Those seeking to improve practitioner understanding of their obligations under national law should consider a scenario-based approach to raising awareness of FTP issues such as impairment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287 - 293
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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