Will the patient benefit from the radiographers’ attendance of ethics presentations at continuous professional development (CPD) events? Results of an online survey


  • Hesta Friedrich-Nel CUT
  • Leonie Munro SORSA


patient rights, informed consent, confidentiality, medical law, patient records


The continuing professional development (CPD) guidelines of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) include ethics, human rights and medical law. Practitioners must obtain a specified number of ethics continuing education units (CEUs). Over the decades the Society of Radiographers of South Africa (SORSA) has offered on-going CPD activities for radiographers to obtain their mandatory ethics CEUs which include human rights and medical law. To date no studies have been undertaken in South Africa to determine whether the content of CPD activities meets the HPCSA ethics guidelines in terms of whether radiographers do apply knowledge gained in their interactions with patients and other practitioners. In view of this gap in the literature this study had two broad aims. The first was to determine whether South African radiographers are of the opinion that the content of ethics CPD activities over the past 10 years enabled them to apply the information to benefit patients. The second was that findings would highlight topics for future CPD ethics activities to address the HPCSA CPD guidelines in terms of focusing on patient care. There were eight broad objectives that related to the two aims of the study.

Methodology: A questionnaire was used to conduct a quantitative, descriptive, and exploratory survey. Invitations to participate in the online survey were placed on regional branches’ SORSA Facebook pages, and the SORSA website. Members also received an automated text message (sms) to their cellphone (mobile) numbers on the current database. There were 292 respondents. There were three sections in the questionnaire: demographic information, ethics as offered at CPD activities to meet the HPCSA guidelines, and the definition of ethics. Respondents were asked to list topics for future CPD events in two open-ended questions.

Results: There was a 41% response rate. The majority (86%) of respondents stated they were familiar with the HPCSA CPD guidelines. Forty-six percent (46%) stated they were familiar with the topic of ethics (moral philosophy) being concerned with human character and conduct; 46% stated they could apply the principles in their work place; and 27% were of the opinion they needed to learn more about the topic. Less than half of respondents agreed that CPD activities influence their daily practice in terms of patient care and rights, and medical law. In terms of the content of ethics presentations focussing on patient care the majority (64%) were of the opinion they did; while 22% were not sure; and 14% disagreed. Twenty-nine percent (29%) mostly agreed that the CPD events they had attended did address the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice and human dignity, and as such did focus on the responsibilities of professionals and the rights of patients. The majority (82%) agreed that more focus should be on ethics at CPD events in order to improve patient care. Topics to address this gap include informed consent, protection of patient records, and ethical dilemmas in the workplace.

Conclusion: Most respondents were familiar with the ethics requirements of the HPCSA and agreed that CPD activities influenced their daily practice. However, there are gaps that should be addressed in future CPD events as evident in the proposed ethics topics. Hopefully SORSA will design CPD activities based on these topics.

Author Biographies

Hesta Friedrich-Nel, CUT

Head of  department

Leonie Munro, SORSA

retired diagnostic  radiographer






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