How to Deal With Needle Phobic Patients | 8 Ways

How to Deal With Needle Phobic Patients

Let’s face it: While many patients may have a fear of needles, not all do, and a specific subset may develop needle phobia.

Treating these patients can be challenging, but there are ways to minimize their discomfort. Below are some tips for health practitioners on how to deal with patients who have a phobia of needles.

8 Practical Ways to Deal With Needle Phobic Patients

1. Establish Rapport with the Patient in Advance

Take time to build rapport with your needle-phobic patient by talking about more pleasant topics such as hobbies or family life.

This will help create a sense of trust and improve communication between you and the patient.

2. Provide Anticipatory Guidance to the Patient in Advance of Treatment

Discuss what to expect during treatment — for example, how often the patient will receive injections, how long each injection session will last, how many injections will be given, and what type of medicine will be administered.

This ensures that the patient isn’t caught off guard when it comes time for treatment. It also helps set realistic expectations regarding how painful or uncomfortable each injection might be.

3. Speak to Them First

When you are about to perform a painful procedure, it is best not to spring it on them. Instead, speak to them beforehand to let them know what they can expect.

This way, they will not be as stressed out.

Even if you have already explained this before the procedure began, explain it again. It may help calm them down if they hear the explanation again or if they missed some of the first explanations because they were so nervous.

4. Hold their hand

Some people are more comfortable when they are holding someone else’s hand. Offer yours and see if they take it. If they don’t, don’t push it; just let it go and wait until the next step to offer your hand again.

5. Use Distraction Techniques

Give them something that will engage their mind for a little while during the procedure that requires their attention for them to focus on it instead of their fear about the needle that is about to penetrate their skin.

A TV or music station can distract them from what is happening around them.  Better still, a pair of glasses with a mirror will do the trick.

6. Explain What you are Going to Do

If the patient starts to get nervous about the injection, tell them what you are doing every step of the way — “I’m going to pull back the plunger on this syringe here” or “I’m going to wipe the area now.”

This will keep them informed and feeling like they’re not being surprised.

7. Be Patient and Kind

If you’re treating a needle-phobic patient, be extra patient with them and don’t rush them through their appointment.

These patients likely have other issues related to their fear that make it difficult for them to tolerate something as simple as a shot, so try to be understanding and calm.

8. Don’t Force the Issue

Don’t even attempt to hold down a patient who doesn’t want injections or blood work. The situation can become unsafe for both the patient and yourself if you force someone already in distress.

Instead, wait for them to calm down and try again while reassuring them that everything will be fine.

How to Deal with Needle Phobic Patients? – Conclusion

As a nurse, you are a key part of the patient care team and therefore, you are often the first person to interact with a needle-phobic patient.

You can be the main source of comfort, support, and calmness for them. The tips above will help you handle this situation.

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Current Version
March 2, 2022
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 25, 2024
Updated By
Franco Cuevas, MD

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