Magnetic resonance imaging scanning procedures: development of phobic response during scan and at one-month follow-up

J Behav Med. 1990 Aug;13(4):391-401. doi: 10.1007/BF00844886.


Between 5 and 10% of patients attempting a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan become claustrophobic during the procedure. There has been a paucity of reported research in this area. This study was designed to investigate MRI-related phobia and identify risk factors for claustrophobia development. There were 108 subjects who had never had a scan, 57 males and 51 females, ranging in age from 19 to 72 years (mean age of 43 years). Subjects were evaluated before and after the scan and contacted for 1-month follow-up. Major findings included the following: (1) prescan report of pain was significantly correlated with stopping the scan, (2) prescan Fear Survey Schedule scores correlated significantly with reported claustrophic feelings after the scan, and (3) stopping the scan correlated significantly with follow-up report of an increase in claustrophobic feelings. Conclusions were that prescan pain and fear assessment may help predict, and allow intervention in, phobic response during and after the MRI scan. Implications for referring physicians and MRI technicians are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Arousal*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology