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A systematic review of non-pharmacologic interventions to reduce anxiety in adults in advance of diagnostic imaging procedures

King, Simon; Woodley, Julia; Walsh, Nicola


Simon King
Senior Lecturer in Diagnostic Imaging

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Nicola Walsh
Professor in Knowledge Mobilisation & Muscul



© 2020 The College of Radiographers Objectives: Anticipation of a diagnostic imaging (DI) procedure, particularly one involving advanced technology, can provoke feelings of anxiety in patients. Anxiolytics (anxiety reducing drugs) can be used to reduce pre-procedural anxiety in patients, however there are several known disadvantages to this approach. The aim of this systematic review was to identify and evaluate any preparatory non-pharmacological interventions used to reduce patient anxiety in advance of DI procedures. Key Findings: Database searches revealed twelve studies met the eligibility criteria and were included in the review. A narrative synthesis identified three intervention categories: patient information/education, cognitive strategies (i.e. guided imagery, breathing techniques, imaginative visualisation) and music therapy. Conclusion: The current review demonstrates that despite the existence of a number of studies providing some evidence for the effectiveness of a range of anxiety reducing interventions for patients prior to DI, the small number and overall low quality of studies identified makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding the application of a specific intervention in clinical practice. Implications for practice: The majority of interventions included in this review were shown to be practical for inclusion in the clinical setting and did have some positive effect on patient anxiety levels. As a result those professionals working with adults undergoing advanced technology DI procedures may consider implementing some of the strategies that have been discussed within their practice.


Woodley, J., Walsh, N., & King, S. (in press). A systematic review of non-pharmacologic interventions to reduce anxiety in adults in advance of diagnostic imaging procedures. Radiography,

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Sep 21, 2020
Online Publication Date Oct 4, 2020
Deposit Date Sep 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 5, 2021
Journal Radiography
Print ISSN 1078-8174
Electronic ISSN 1532-2831
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
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