DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.13702 ISSN:

How artificial intelligence is reshaping the autonomy and boundary work of radiologists. A qualitative study

Linda Lombi, Eleonora Rossero
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Health (social science)


The application of artificial intelligence (AI) in medical practice is spreading, especially in technologically dense fields such as radiology, which could consequently undergo profound transformations in the near future. This article aims to qualitatively explore the potential influence of AI technologies on the professional identity of radiologists. Drawing on 12 in‐depth interviews with a subgroup of radiologists who participated in a larger study, this article investigated (1) whether radiologists perceived AI as a threat to their decision‐making autonomy; and (2) how radiologists perceived the future of their profession compared to other health‐care professions. The findings revealed that while AI did not generally affect radiologists’ decision‐making autonomy, it threatened their professional and epistemic authority. Two discursive strategies were identified to explain these findings. The first strategy emphasised radiologists’ specific expertise and knowledge that extends beyond interpreting images, a task performed with high accuracy by AI machines. The second strategy underscored the fostering of radiologists’ professional prestige through developing expertise in using AI technologies, a skill that would distinguish them from other clinicians who did not pose this knowledge. This study identifies AI machines as status objects and useful tools in performing boundary work in and around the radiological profession.

More from our Archive