Only mentioning the word "nuclear" already creates anxiety and distress. We attempted to assess the impact of the media hype about the Fukushima event on patients admitted in nuclear medicine units to undergo diagnostic investigations. The number of patients denying scintigraphic studies over half a year after the Fukushima accident was compared with the same period of the 2 previous years 2009 and 2010. Data were separately analyzed into thyroid vs. other organ scintigraphies. Physicians' referrals to nuclear medicine showed no decline. Patients undergoing various organ scintigraphies asked questions related to the accident but only few of them denied the investigation. Questioning and denial for nuclear medicine tests were more frequent in females as compared to males and especially in child-bearing females. Among patients referred in the initial post-event phase for thyroid function tests, more than 10% denied thyroid scintigraphy and 2.75% questioned this test. Again, questioning and denial was higher with females, especially in child-bearing age. In conclusion, this study showed that nuclear accidents and perhaps irresponsible media reports may affect behaviour of patients referred for nuclear medicine studies and in particular for thyroid scintigraphy even if these accidents had no radioactive effect to them.
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