How Do Patients Feel about MRIs?


MRIs are extremely valuable for diagnosis and can often replace more invasive kinds of testing. But some patients find them so uncomfortable that they can’t complete their MRIs.

This means that people’s feelings about MRIs have medical importance. It could be very useful to get good insights into how patients respond to MRIs, the specific aspects they find most difficult, and the actions or environmental changes that could make them more comfortable.

Getting those insights can be difficult. Simply asking patients may not get an honest answer, since they may be inhibited by politeness. The time directly after an MRI may also be an inconvenient time to chat. Direct observation may not work, either, since each observer brings his or her own expectations into the process. In addition, both interviews and observations can be very time consuming, resulting in small sample sizes.

Johnathan Hewis of Charles Sturt University in Port Macquarie, Australia has discovered a new source of information on the subject. He checked patients’ Twitter posts about their MRIs. Automatically pulling social media posts using MRI-related terms for a full month, he found that most fell into a few broad categories:

  • Patients tweeted about having an MRI scheduled, often describing it in terms of a milestone in their healthcare journey. They asked for prayers, mentioned financial concerns, and shared health information.
  • They also tweeted about their experience during the exam, including frustration with the difficulty of keeping still, anxiety about the upcoming exam, and emotional responses to the sound of the exam and the music being played. Sometimes claustrophobic feelings were mentioned.
  • Patients tweeted after receiving their results, usually with a sense of celebration and optimism based on their receipt of normal results from their MRI.

Hewis also saw 15 selfies — patients’ pictures of themselves getting ready for their MRI.

This new research on the patient experience can give healthcare providers more insight into the things that make the MRI experience more or less comfortable for patients. MANA’s 3T MRIs are the most accurate and comfortable experience possible, in terms both of the technology used and of the compassionate experts who help patients during the experience. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about an upcoming MRI for yourself or your child.