Radiographer Perspectives on current occurrence and management of claustrophobia in MRI

Radiography (Lond). 2022 Feb;28(1):154-161. doi: 10.1016/j.radi.2021.09.008. Epub 2021 Oct 14.


Introduction: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is well known to be a source of anxiety for patients, commonly appearing as claustrophobia. One of the main reasons for this is due to the physical nature of the scanner itself. Despite technological improvements, there is lacking evidence on whether these improvements have resulted in a reduction in claustrophobia and anxiety in the clinical setting. Background anxiety associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic may also have shown an increase in prevalence. Therefore, the aim of this study was to survey MRI radiographers on their perspectives on the occurrence and management of claustrophobia in modern day clinical practice.

Methods: Following ethical approval, an online survey was used to gather the opinions of MRI radiographers. This used closed ranking questions as well as open responses to gain insight into how this issue may be presenting in practice, preferences in management, and barriers to providing support.

Results: Responses provide an up-to-date view on how radiographers perceive both displays of anxiety and associated impacts on patient outcome, the considered sources of anxiety, the use and effectiveness of support strategies, barriers to providing this support, and views on how COVID-19 has impacted on practice.

Conclusion: The study provides a current view from radiographers on their experience of claustrophobia in practice. It shows that this remains a regular part of practice within the modality. Therefore, for MRI radiographers managing this is an essential component of their role. Communication and interaction with the patient are recognised as important, although time is a barrier to always being able to provide patient centred care.

Implications for practice: Ongoing support is needed for both patients and radiographers to improve experience within MRI.

Keywords: Claustrophobia; MRI; Patient experience.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pandemics
  • Phobic Disorders* / diagnostic imaging
  • SARS-CoV-2