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Autism-friendly MRI: Improving radiography practice in the UK, a survey of radiographer practitioners

Stogiannos, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-1378-6631, Harvey–Lloyd, J. M., Nugent, B. , Brammer, A., Carlier, S., Cleaver, K., McNulty, J. P., Sá dos Reis, C. & Malamateniou, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2352-8575 (2022). Autism-friendly MRI: Improving radiography practice in the UK, a survey of radiographer practitioners. Radiography, 28(1), pp. 133-141. doi: 10.1016/j.radi.2021.09.003


Autistic individuals undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations may face significant challenges, mainly due to sensory overload and MRI environment-related limitations. This study aimed to explore radiographers’ perspectives and experiences regarding MRI scanning of autistic individuals.

Data collection was achieved using a specifically designed mixed methods questionnaire on Qualtrics. The snowball technique was used. This UK-wide survey was electronically distributed by three main recruitment agencies between December 2020 and February 2021.

130 valid responses were received. A lack of relevant training and knowledge related to autism was noted. Effective communication, optimisation and customisation of the MRI examination, and MRI environment adjustments facilitated the completion of a safe and effective MRI examination. Poor patient-radiographer communication, unavailability of Special Educational Needs (SEN) experts, lack of specialised radiographer training and lack of specific guidelines were identified as the main barriers to successful MRI examinations.

Although routine MRI safety and patient care rules will apply, MRI scanning of autistic individuals requires customisation and reasonable adjustments in communication, environment, and training of clinical teams. In addition, guidelines should be established to be used as a reference point to improve clinical practice. The adjustments proposed by radiographers were all consistent with the interventions in the wider literature.

Implications for practice
MRI practice for personalised care of autistic individuals should be aligned with current evidence, to customise communication and offer workflow and environmental adjustments. Formal training related to autism, integrated within radiography academic curricula and better co-ordination and communication of interdisciplinary teams would provide the necessary skill mix to deliver safe, high quality MRI scans with optimal experience for autistic service users and their carer(s).

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: magnetic resonance imaging; autism; patient-centred care; person-centred care; adjustments
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
SWORD Depositor:
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Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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