Visualising health risks with medical imaging for changing recipients' health behaviours and risk factors: Systematic review with meta-analysis.
PLoS Medicine 2021 ; 19: e1003920.
PubMed ID : 35239659
PMCID : PMC8893626
There is ongoing clinical and research interest in determining whether providing personalised risk information could motivate risk-reducing health behaviours. We aimed to assess the impact on behaviours and risk factors of feeding back to individuals' images of their bodies generated via medical imaging technologies in assessing their current disease status or risk.
A systematic review with meta-analysis was conducted using Cochrane methods. MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) were searched up to July 28, 2021, with backward and forward citation searches up to July 29, 2021. Eligible studies were randomised controlled trials including adults who underwent medical imaging procedures assessing current health status or risk of disease, for which personal risk may be reduced by modifying behaviour. Trials included an intervention group that received the imaging procedure plus feedback of visualised results and assessed subsequent risk-reducing health behaviour. We examined 12,620 abstracts and included 21 studies, involving 9,248 randomised participants. Studies reported on 10 risk-reducing behaviours, with most data for smoking (8 studies; n = 4,308), medication use (6 studies; n = 4,539), and physical activity (4 studies; n = 1,877). Meta-analysis revealed beneficial effects of feedback of visualised medical imaging results on reduced smoking (risk ratio 1.11, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01 to 1.23, p = 0.04), healthier diet (standardised mean difference [SMD] 0.30, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.50, p = 0.003), increased physical activity (SMD 0.11, 95% CI 0.003 to 0.21, p = 0.04), and increased oral hygiene behaviours (SMD 0.35, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.57, p = 0.002). In addition, single studies reported increased skin self-examination and increased foot care. For other behavioural outcomes (medication use, sun protection, tanning booth use, and blood glucose testing) estimates favoured the intervention but were not statistically significant. Regarding secondary risk factor outcomes, there was clear evidence for reduced systolic blood pressure, waist circumference, and improved oral health, and some indication of reduced Framingham risk score. There was no evidence of any adverse effects, including anxiety, depression, or stress, although these were rarely assessed. A key limitation is that there were some concerns about risk of bias for all studies, with evidence for most outcomes being of low certainty. In particular, valid and precise measures of behaviour were rarely used, and there were few instances of preregistered protocols and analysis plans, increasing the likelihood of selective outcome reporting.
In this study, we observed that feedback of medical images to individuals has the potential to motivate risk-reducing behaviours and reduce risk factors. Should this promise be corroborated through further adequately powered trials that better mitigate against risk of bias, such interventions could usefully capitalise upon the widespread and growing use of medical imaging technologies in healthcare.