Physician Practice

Needle phobia: An underappreciated threat

Medical Environment Update, October 2, 2020

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A fear of needles could rerail vaccine adherence for millions of Americans

by Scott E. McFarland, JD

As the nation keeps a close watch on the development of COVID-19 vaccine candidates that might signal the beginning of the end of the pandemic, a threat looms that could lead millions of Americans to avoid obtaining the vaccine: needle phobia.

Needle phobia is a “prevalent yet under-recognized and under-prioritized” issue in healthcare, according to research published in 2016 in the journal Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Citing a number of previous studies, researchers estimated that fear of needles affects 33%–63% of children and 14%–38% of adults, contributing to “negative experiences” with needle procedures (and healthcare as a whole) for patients, caregivers, and medical providers.

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