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How to Reduce Patient Anxiety During an MRI Scan

08th Jun, 2017

How to Reduce Patient Anxiety During an MRI Scan

The phrase ‘MRI scan’ tends to come with a certain air of intimidation. The idea of being stuffed into a small tube for 30 minutes or more isn’t exactly appealing to the average person, particularly adults afraid of small spaces and young children.

As a healthcare professional, it makes your job much harder when a patient resists important testing and sadly there is not yet an alternative option to the big, scary tanning-bed looking machine available. So, with vital tests to carry out and no other tools to complete them with, we can only do our best to make sure that patients are as calm and comfortable as possible.

How can you do that? Try these anxiety-reducing solutions.

1.       Build a friendly relationship with your patient

Ask your patient a bit about themselves and talk to them like a friend. Your patient is likely to be feeling nervous about the scan, but feeling at ease with the professional carrying out their testing might calm them. Make sure you give your patient a comforting smile and reassure them that you’ll take good care of them.

2.       Provide plenty of information

The more informed your patient feels, the less anxious they will be. Make sure to tell them what they can expect from the scan, including sights and sounds. Explain to them why the test is necessary and how long it should take. You should also ask your patient if they have any questions and give the best answers you can.

3.       Give your patient some earphones

Allow your patient to escape the mental confines of the MRI scanner by supplying them with a set of non-magnetic earphones/headphones and some music. Music will mask the loud noises made by the scanner and help them to relax.

4.       Check your patient is comfortable

Before you start any testing, check with your patient that they feel comfortable. Ask if they need the toilet or a drink of water etc. before proceeding. Once the patient is lying down on the scanner table, check with them again if they’re comfortable and do your best to accommodate them. Should they be feeling discomfort from something that cannot be altered, explain to the patient that the scan will be finished as quickly as possible.

5.       Research scan environment tools

Did you know that Philips has made something called the ‘KittenScanner’, which is a small-scale scanner, designed to allow young children to scan their toys before proceeding with their own scan? It’s designed to create familiarity between the child and the scanner so they don’t feel scared during testing. Mood lighting and projections of calming images have also proven to be effective in reducing patient anxiety.