Reduce MRI Anxiety with Good Communication

September 16, 2014

Patients undergoing MRI may have lessened anxiety if the procedure is well-explained.

Good communication with patients prior to and during MRI scans reduces anxiety, according to a study published in the journal Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Researchers from Turkey sought to determine how effective communication with patients about to undergo an MRI would affect anxiety as evidenced by measuring prolactin and cortisol levels, in addition to completion of the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

The randomized prospective trial comprised 33 subjects, 14 patients, and 19 controls. The study group received standard information about the procedure and was spoken to every two minutes throughout the duration of the scan. The control group had no interventions. All subjects underwent blood draws and completed the STAI before and after the MRI.

The results showed that prolactin-pre, prolactin-post, cortisol-pre, cortisol-post, cortisol percent increase, Trait Anxiety Inventory (TAI), SAI (State Anxiety Inventory) prescan, and postscan levels were similar between demographic groups. But while cortisol-pre levels were similar between the study and control groups, prolactin-pre levels were significantly higher among the subjects in the control group. Those in the study group had a 6% lower cortisol level postscan, compared with those in the control group who had an 18% increase.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"27772","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_5952998529606","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"2743","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 150px; width: 150px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The STAI and Trait Anxiety scores were similar in both groups before the scan, but SAI-post scores were lower in the study group when compared with the control group. The researchers also noted that the study group had lower SAI-post scores than SAI-pre; the control group had higher scores.

The researchers concluded that anxiety related to MRI scans can be lessened by providing information about the examination and regular communication during the procedure.