• anxiety;
  • lived experience;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • nursing;
  • patient care;
  • qualitative research

Aim.  The aim of this study was to illuminate patients’ lived experience during magnetic resonance imaging.

Background.  Magnetic resonance imaging has increased in importance since the early 1980s and is today a common useful diagnostic tool. Although magnetic resonance imaging are non-invasive and considered painless, many patients experience anxiety, sometimes so strong that the scan has to be terminated.

Design and methods.  The study had an inductive design and a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology was used.

Results.  The essential theme of going through magnetic resonance imaging was a feeling of being in another world. The strange environment and isolation inside the scanner made the participants’ experiences unusual, with varying degrees of difficulty dealing with it. Being in the other world caused a threat to the participants’ self-control. There was a relation between threat to self-control, effort and need for support in the sense that the magnitude of threat to self-control had an impact on the effort it took to handle the situation and on the need for support, and conversely that the support received could affect the effort and threat to self-control.

Conclusions.  The study shows that the information received and the interaction between patients and staff have a significant influence on patients’ lived experiences.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The individual experience of threat to self-control requires the need for support to be individualized and care need to be adjusted for each patient.