Welcome to Our Website

This website is written by a needle phobic patient, and is anecdotal and based on lived experienced; this content is intended purely to confer a patient’s perspective. This page is for nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other clinicians who wish to understand anxiety triggers and responses in needle phobic patients.

Your needle phobic patients may not engage with medical services, for fear of having to confront their phobia. In the most severe cases, a patient may disengage entirely, causing important tests not to be taken, treatment to be delayed, resulting in lower quality of life, or shortened life expectancy. If a patient has no (or minimal) history of accepting diagnostics or treatment involving a needle, consider offering support.

Potential triggers for needle phobic patients

  • Imagery of needles in patient information leaflets or on websites.
  • Sight of others receiving medical treatment (such as a public mass-vaccination clinic).
  • Needle paraphernalia, such as sharps boxes, syringes, tourniquets.
  • Being compelled to explain their phobia in public, such as a reception area, or in a queue.
  • Delays between arriving at the appointment and receiving treatment, which may cause sensory overload, and the waiting time may allow anxiety to build.

Operational changes that may reduce anxiety

  • Allow needle phobic patients to schedule an appointment away from the a mass vaccination room, such as in a consulting room elsewhere in the building.
  • Ensure first contact staff (receptionists, call handlers, greeters) are aware of how to process needle phobic patients, even if this is to defer to a colleague experienced in anxiety and phobias.
  • Perform needle work in private.
  • Give the patient control – they may be more likely to attend an appointment if they are assured a potential ‘fight or flight’ response can be understood.
  • Ask the patient what you can do to help – a common theme on needle phobia forums is lack of control, flexibility, patience and understanding.
  • If pain is a concern, consider topical anaesthetics such as Emla (lidocaine/prilocaine).

If you are a primary care doctor

  • Consider referral to a psychologist. Needle phobic patients active on social media often report success with exposure therapy. Some also report PTSD and other psychiatric disorders which contribute to their phobia.
  • When prescribing anxiety medication, a patient with needle phobia may be reassured by an additional dose to ‘test’ the medication before confronting their phobia in the clinic. Needle phobic patients sometimes have general anxiety, or other medical phobias.