Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1815–1824 | Cite as

Parent perspectives and preferences for strategies regarding nonsedated MRI scans in a pediatric oncology population

  • Breya Walker
  • Heather M. Conklin
  • Doralina L. Anghelescu
  • Lacey P. Hall
  • Wilburn E. Reddick
  • Robert Ogg
  • Lisa M. JacolaEmail author
Original Article



Children with cancer frequently require MRI scans for clinical purposes. Sedation with general anesthesia (GA) is often used to promote compliance, reduce motion, and alleviate anxiety. The use of GA for MRI scans is costly in terms of time, personnel, and medications. In addition, prominent risks are associated with anesthesia exposure in patients with complex medical conditions. Successful behavioral interventions have been implemented in clinical research settings to promote scan success and compliance. To our knowledge, parent/caregiver acceptability of behavioral interventions to promote nonsedated MRI has not been systematically investigated in a medically complex population. As a first step toward developing a protocol-based intervention to promote nonsedated scanning, we conducted a survey to explore parental perspectives regarding acceptability of nonsedated scanning and to gain information regarding preference for specific behavioral interventions to facilitate nonsedated MRI exams.


Parents or guardians of 101 patients diagnosed with childhood cancer participated in a semi-structured survey via telephone. The sample was stratified by age group (8–12 years; 13–18 years), gender, and diagnosis (solid tumor (ST), brain tumor (BT), and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)).


The majority of parents indicated that nonsedated MRI scans would be acceptable. Reduced anesthesia exposure was the most frequently identified benefit, followed by decreased irritability post-MRI scan, and shorter appointment time. Challenges included fear of movement and noise during scans and change in routine, with parents of younger children and those with a history of sedated exams identifying more challenges. Behavioral intervention preference differed by patient age and gender; however, education was ranked as most preferred overall.


Parents of children treated for cancer consider behavior interventions to promote nonsedated scanning as acceptable. Patient characteristics should be considered when tailoring behavioral interventions. Results can inform future studies of behavioral interventions to promote nonsedated MRI scans. Future research should also investigate the risks associated with failed exams, both in terms of patient medical care and cost effectiveness.


Pediatric cancer Sedation Caregiver Strategies MRI Adolescents/child 



This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute (St. Jude Cancer Center Support (CORE) under grant [P30 CA21765] and the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC). Research was conducted at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Informed consent

This study was approved by the hospital’s Institutional Review Board. Informed consent was obtained by all individual participants in this study

Supplementary material

520_2017_4009_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 37 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Breya Walker
    • 1
  • Heather M. Conklin
    • 2
  • Doralina L. Anghelescu
    • 3
  • Lacey P. Hall
    • 2
  • Wilburn E. Reddick
    • 4
  • Robert Ogg
    • 4
  • Lisa M. Jacola
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Pediatric Medicine, Division of Nursing ResearchSt. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMemphisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySt. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMemphisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Pediatric Medicine, Division of AnesthesiologySt. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMemphisUSA
  4. 4.Department of Diagnostic ImagingSt. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMemphisUSA

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