Claustrophobia and the magnetic resonance imaging procedure

J Behav Med. 1998 Jun;21(3):255-68. doi: 10.1023/a:1018717016680.


We examined fear induced by the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure in 80 adult patients who were undergoing the procedure for the first time. Participants completed self-report measures of claustrophobia, anxiety sensitivity, thoughts about the scan, and pain. Participants were assessed pre- and postscan, and at 1-month follow-up. Twenty-five percent of the participants experienced moderate to severe anxiety during the MRI scan. Prescan scores on the Claustrophobia Questionnaire (CLQ: Rachman and Taylor, 1993) significantly predicted participants' distress during the scan: pain and anxeity sensitivity did not. Furthermore, CLQ scores discriminated between participants who reported panic during the scan and participants who did not report panic. A brief screening instrument consisting of six items from the 29-item CLQ is suggested. This brief screening instrument administered prior to the scan may help identify in advance those people who are most likely to experience claustrophobic fear and, in particular, those who panic during the MRI procedure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Panic
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology*