78% of women oppose using AI to independently read mammograms without a radiologist's help

Almost 78% of women oppose using artificial intelligence to independently read mammograms without a radiologist serving as backstop, according to a new survey.

Another 42% disagreed with the idea of deploying AI to select breast imaging studies for a second read, versus more than 31% who agreed, and another 27% who are undecided. The findings illustrate that even if such algorithms are ready for primetime, radiology providers may have work to do convincing patients of their efficacy, Dutch experts wrote Monday in JACR.

“These findings are somewhat surprising, because recent work has shown AI to be of great promise for mammography screening, even outperforming radiologists,” Yfke Ongena, with the Center of Language and Cognition at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, and colleagues wrote Oct. 12. “Therefore, from the population’s perspective, it is too premature to leave the interpretation of screening mammograms completely up to independently operating AI algorithms.”

To reach their conclusions, Ongena et al. surveyed 922 Dutch women between the ages of 16 and 75 in two separate waves—earlier this year and back in December 2018. Their aim was to gauge the general population’s views on AI in breast imaging, hypothesizing that most would have positive perceptions, given favorable reporting in the lay press.

But they were surprised to find that public attitudes still have a long way to go before AI hits the mainstream. Just 17% of respondents explicitly objected to using AI as a second reader, the team noted, presenting an opening to use the technology in tandem with a physician leading the way, Ongena and colleagues wrote.

“Improved information supply and education about the development, possibilities, and limitations of AI algorithms in screening mammography may potentially overcome some of the perceived obstacles and increase acceptance of this new technique in clinical practice,” the authors advised.

Read much more on their findings in the Journal of the American College of Radiology here.