Half of unvaccinated adults have needle phobia – which has been shown to help

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The embarrassment that accompanies fear on the needle can make research difficult among adults. Credit: CDC / Unsplash, CC BY

If you’re among the 25% of Americans who reject needles, you’re probably not surprised by the COVID-19 vaccination stop. Even for those who want immunity, bribes with beer or lottery tickets may not be enough to nullify the worsening anxiety. widespread images of needles in the media.

Like a doctor specializing in pain management, I study the impact of pain on vaccination. Interventions demonstrated by research in adults for pain, fainting, panic and it can make vaccination more tolerable. At the very least, understanding the reasons why fear of needles has become commonplace can make embarrassment easier to bear.

Why needle anxiety has increased

Fear of the needle has increased dramatically since a 1995 study by JG Hamilton reported it 10% adults and 25% children dreaded needles. In this document, who remembered when her fear began described a stressful needle experience around age 5.

Patient childhood experiences are usually related to an unexpected illness; at the time Hamilton participants were in preschool education, vaccines were only scheduled until age 2 years. reinforcement injections administered between 4 and 6 years of age became a routine part of the vaccine experience. Booster time maximizes and prolongs immunity, but unfortunately falls within the old window when phobias form. A Canadian study conducted in 2012 with 1,024 children found it 63% of those born in 2000 or later now needles of fear. In a 2017 study, my colleagues and I confirmed this increase in prevalence: Half of preschoolers those who received all their impulses in one day — often four or five injections at a time — were still very afraid of needles as preadolescents.

Not surprisingly, fear of the needle affects the willingness of teens and adults to get vaccinated. A 2016 study found that fear of the needle was the most common reason why teens didn’t have it. second HPV vaccine. Healthcare workers are no exception: a 2018 study proved this 27% of hospital employees flu vaccines dodged for fear of the needle. And, most recently, April 2021 of 600 American adults not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 found that 52% reported moderate to severe fear in the needle.

Possible solutions for adults

For children, the evidence shows that they are aimed at their own fear and pain while distracting them of the procedure is more effective in reducing anxiety.

Although adults are not just older children, the combination of these concepts with the results of available injection studies for adults suggests some potential interventions. For many who want a vaccine but need help, here’s what we know:

1. Pain reduction

Relieving pain from injection can reduce fear in the needle giving patients a sense of control. For example, a group of patients in New Zealand repeatedly missed monthly antibiotic injections for rheumatic heart disease. His doctors set up a special clinic, which offered anesthetics, a vibrating cold device or both during the shot. Interventions in 107 adults 50% reduction in pain and fear after three months. Six months later, half of the patients were still using the interventions and the special “missed dose” clinic was no longer needed.

More than half of unvaccinated adults need COVID-19 fear needles: this is what has been shown to help

Interventions targeting the components of pain, fear, and the focus of anxiety can help reduce fear in the needle. Credit: Amy Baxter, CC BY-NC-ND

Specifically for vaccination, applying a vibrating cooling device at the injection site one minute before the injection, then pressing just above the site during the injection relieved the pain and improved adult satisfaction and was more effective for those afraid of the needle. A horseshoe-shaped plastic device the use of sharp points to confuse the nerves is also reduced pain but increased anxiety, possibly due to the discomfort of the spines themselves.

Cold spray does not help reduce vaccination pain for children, but has been shown to be more effective than topical anesthetics for injections for adults.

2. Psychological therapy

Exposure-based therapy it involves asking a patient to classify the anxiety caused by parts of a procedure, such as seeing a photo of a tourniquet or thinking about sharp things, and gradually exposing them to those parts in a controlled environment. Free self-guided resources they are available for fears ranging from flight to spiders. Despite this, none of the three studies testing this approach on adult needle fear showed a long-term reduction in fear.

However, one of the studies that taught techniques to reduce fainting was considered a success. Desmai, o vasovagal syncope, and fear of needles are often confused. While going on because of injections is more common with anxiety, it often is a genetic response. Tension of the stomach muscles it increases the volume of blood the heart can pump, keeping blood in the brain to prevent dizziness during needle procedures.

3. Distraction

Surprisingly, there are there are no studies on adults using distraction for injections. However, two studies have found it pretending to cough reduces pain by drawing blood.

Dropping F bombs could also help: a recent study found it the oath reduced the pain by a third compared to saying meaningless words. Distraction with virtual reality games or videos has been shown to be more effective in children, although there have been some mixed results in adults.

Mental participation tasks can also help. A visual search task Treatment given to children during intramuscular vaccines has been shown to reduce pain and fear, with a 97% rating of the experience more enjoyable than previous blood draws. Adults may need a more complicated task, but a similar intervention may work for them as well.

Use several interventions and make a plan

To reduce fear of needles, research suggests that the more interventions, the better. A 2018 study that summarizes vaccine research concluded that operated on the patient cold and vibration devices combined with distraction techniques they were more effective. Canada has implemented a practice national intervention for fear of the needle for their vaccine launch, emphasizing preparing in advance to help make vaccine day more comfortable.

Adults who don’t like needles are the majority. Taking control of your vaccination experience may be the best way to combat it anxiety.


Fear of needles could be an obstacle to COVID-19 vaccination, but here are ways to overcome it.


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Citation: Half of unvaccinated adults have needle phobia: what has been shown to help (2021, June 14), retrieved June 14, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021- 06-unvaccinated-adults-needle-phobia-proven.html

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