An investigation into the effect of variations in radiographic technical quality on pneumoconiosis reading standards in the Pneumoconiosis Field Research of the National Coal Board is reported. From the group of men for whom retake films had been obtained because of unsatisfactory technique of the originals, a trial series of pairs and triplets of films showing differing technique was assembled.
A total of 778 films was read for pneumoconiosis and assessed for technical quality by four readers. The quality was assessed in terms of three separate factors, viz., density (at high, medium, and low levels), contrast (satisfactory and unsatisfactory), and definition (satisfactory and unsatisfactory). The intra and inter observer consistency of this assessment was estimated, and the effect of techical quality on the reading of pneumoconiosis category was determined. A tendency for lower pneumoconiosis readings to be recorded on films with unsatisfactory technique was demonstrated.
A random 10% sample of the best available films (those on which routine pneumoconiosis readings have been made) for all men examined since the beginning of the research was also read for technical quality. Of the total of 4,188 films, 80% were considered satisfactory. It appeared that films taken on second surveys were, in general, of rather better quality than those taken on first surveys.
The physical attributes of the men examined had some effect on the technical standards, the proportion of unsatisfactory films rising with increasing values of the weight/sitting height ratio and being greater in men with pneumoconiosis categories 1 and A and in the middle age group.
The tendency for lower pneumoconiosis readings to be recorded on films with unsatisfactory technique is in contrast to the results of work previously published. Different criteria for the selection of films and the assessment of technical quality, and possibly differing reading conventions, make comparison with other work difficult.
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