Most health professionals regularly deal with patients who are afraid of needles, whether it’s while drawing blood, or injecting vaccinations. Team Med is passionate about all Australians – and people worldwide – being able to seek medical services when needed. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help healthcare providers better support their patients who suffer from needle phobia, or Trypanophobia.

What is needle phobia?

Sure, there’s few of us who dislike needles, but needle phobia goes beyond being queasy when drawing blood. Up to ten percent of the population suffer from the debilitating fear, and can experience feeling faint, panicky, fainting, or even avoiding the doctor’s altogether. Their phobia can be triggered by being injected, holding a needle, touching a needle, seeing one, thinking about one, or simply hearing the word ‘needle’. This phobia can become serious if the sufferer foregoes essential treatment in order to avoid needles.

Give advice to your patient

There’s no ignoring the fact that support and advice given by a medical professional has sway over a patient’s decision-making. Whether you’re a nurse or a doctor, taking time and showing genuine care for the patient by suggesting a number of tested and proven ways for them to manage and reduce their needle phobia can be the catalyst they require to act.

Some of the tips you can offer your patients to ease their anxiety when around needles include:

  • Reassuring them that Trypanophobia is nothing to be embarrassed about
  • Focusing on their breathing when having an injection
  • Looking away
  • Lying down rather than sitting up

In order to ease tension, having a few questions at the ready can be a great way to keep them distracted by talking.

These are some tips you may suggest to your patient if their needle phobia affects their life negatively:

  • Reframing from thinking about needles
  • Recognising the importance of facing their fears
  • Consider phobia therapy such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)

Do you struggle with needle phobia?

Don’t avoid necessary medical care due to your fear of needles! Know that you are not alone, that Trypanophobia is nothing to be embarrassed about, and it is a condition that, while serious, is possible to overcome. No matter how severe your needle phobia is, the most important first step is to have an open and honest discussion about it with your healthcare provider.