Summary: Children and young people are generally positive about AI in healthcare, especially in radiology, but emphasize the need for human supervision, according to a U.K.-based survey.

Key Takeaways

  1. Positive Attitude with Caution: Children and young people are generally positive about AI in healthcare, especially if it improves their care and outcomes, but they emphasize the need for AI tools to be supervised by healthcare professionals.
  2. Support for AI in Radiology: Respondents believe that AI would be accurate in identifying issues on bone X-rays and are willing to wait for results if they are accurate and managed by trusted doctors.
  3. Integration into Research: The study’s findings are being used to develop AI tools at London-based Great Ormond Street Hospital to better detect and describe fractures from children’s X-ray scans, highlighting the potential of AI to enhance pediatric radiology.

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Children and young people are generally positive about artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential use in modern healthcare, according to a first-of-its-kind survey led by University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London. The national study, which surveyed children and young people ages 6 to 23 across all four U.K. nations, sought their views on how they would like AI to be used to enhance their healthcare. 

Cautious Optimism for AI in Healthcare

AI is increasingly being utilized in modern healthcare, particularly in radiology, where it can analyze scans. However, while the radiology community, including children’s radiologists, generally supports AI use, little attention has been given to how children and young adults feel about AI’s application to their imaging data.

The survey, co-developed with a steering committee from the GOSH YPAG and the GOSH Parents and Carer Advisory Group, revealed that children and young people are cautious but generally positive about AI. They are keen for AI to be used in healthcare, especially if it improves their care and outcomes. However, they emphasize the need for AI tools to be supervised by healthcare professionals, citing elements of care such as empathy and ethical decision-making that AI cannot replicate.

For radiology-specific questions, respondents felt that AI would be accurate in identifying issues on bone X-rays. They indicated a willingness to wait for results if they were accurate and managed by a trusted physician.

AI’s Role in Enhancing Pediatric Radiology

The study’s findings are already being incorporated into research at GOSH, which aims to develop AI tools to better detect and describe fractures from a large dataset of children’s X-ray scans across England. The online survey was distributed to schools, universities, and charity partners, gathering responses over a one-year period.

Lead researcher professor Susan Shelmerdine, PhD, says, “The number of trained children’s radiologists in the UK is relatively small, so tools like AI could help upskill our workforce to enable more equitable care for patients who don’t have the option to visit specialist hospitals like GOSH. Nevertheless, we cannot assume that we know what children want. It was encouraging to see that when asked, children and young people were positive about the use of AI in their healthcare, but it was also important to understand what was important to them—such as human oversight—so that we can factor this into the development of new tools and treatments.”

Lauren Lee, MD, study co-lead and young facilitator, adds, “There are a lot of discussions about how AI can help to facilitate healthcare. Until this study, no one has really asked the younger generation how we feel about it, especially as we will be growing up alongside AI developments. It has been great to be able to give young people a voice in this space.”