The extent to which a fear of needles influences health decisions
remains largely unexplored. This study investigated the prevalence
of fear of needles in a southeast Queensland community, described
associated symptoms, and highlighted health care avoidance
tendencies of affected individuals.
One hundred and seventy-seven participants attending an outer
urban general practice responded to a questionnaire on fear of
needles, symptoms associated with needles and its influence on their
use of medical care.
Twenty-two percent of participants reported a fear of needles.
Affected participants were more likely than participants with no fear
to report vasovagal symptoms, have had a previous traumatic needle
experience (46.2 vs. 16.4%, p<0.001) and avoid medical treatment
involving needles (20.5 vs. 2.3%, p<0.001).
Fear of needles is common and is associated with health care
avoidance. Health professionals could better identify and manage
patients who have a fear of needles by recognising associated
vasovagal symptoms and past traumatic experiences.
Injections play a central role in medical care with an estimated 12 billion injections and 100 million childhood vaccinations given worldwide annually.1 As general practice patients are commonly required to tolerate needles, a fear of needles may be a barrier to accessing good medical care. There is some anecdotal evidence of the fear of needles resulting in diabetics avoiding their insulin injections, patients forgoing vaccinations, the postponement of urgent surgery, and the avoidance of medical help altogether.2–5 It is especially important for general practitioners to be aware of their pregnant patients with a fear of needles, as this can lead to suboptimal care, with routine blood tests, injections and pain management (during childbirth) all involving needles.2,6
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