Understanding student radiographer attrition: Risk factors and strategies
McAnulla, SJ; Ball, SE; Knapp, KM
Date: 23 December 2019
Elsevier for College of Radiographers
Introduction Diagnostic student radiographer attrition is reported at 14%, 6% higher than the average for higher education, however, little research has been undertaken on this subject. This study explored risk factors for attrition and strategies that enabled these to be overcome. Methods A two-phase study was undertaken. Phase ...
Introduction Diagnostic student radiographer attrition is reported at 14%, 6% higher than the average for higher education, however, little research has been undertaken on this subject. This study explored risk factors for attrition and strategies that enabled these to be overcome. Methods A two-phase study was undertaken. Phase one: data for 579 former student diagnostic radiographers (468 completers and 111 non-completers) from 3 English universities were analysed. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for completion based on individual characteristics. Phase two: content analysis of data from an online survey of 186 current UK student diagnostic radiographers exploring their experiences was undertaken. Results Phase one: Attrition was 19%. Increased age, non A-level entry qualifications and poor academic performance were predictors of attrition (p < 0.005). Phase two: Challenges reported by groups identified as ‘at risk’ showed that for mature students and those with non-traditional entry qualifications, external responsibilities/pressures and financial pressures were likely to be the greatest cause of attrition and for younger students with traditional qualifications, academic difficulty and excessive workload were most significant. Scientific learning and academic writing were identified as the most common academic difficulties by all groups. Poor mental health may also be a risk factor. Conclusion Although characteristics were identified that increased the chance of attrition, the study concluded that attrition is most likely to be multi-factorial. Academic and personal support were identified as key in students continuing their studies when they considered leaving. Clinical placement experience is likely to influence continuation decisions. Implications for practice Transparency around course expectations and academic requirements together with ensuring high quality clinical placements may assist in reducing attrition.
Institute of Health Research
College of Medicine and Health
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