More than 15 million American adults and five million children over the age of five suffer from high discomfort or exhibit needle-phobic behavior when faced with getting a blood draw or injection, according to results from a new study, with the overwhelming majority of those studied – 75 percent adults and 91 percent children – naming “pain” as the component they most feared.
Clinically known as blenophobia, the condition is defined as a fear of needles, and includes the fear of pain felt during injections and blood draws. Pain associated with needle sticks leads directly to fear and anxiety, according to the study. The phobia presents a widespread public health challenge since a patient’s behavior is often influenced by their fears – and in extreme cases – affects their ability to receive necessary medical care.
“Blood tests are one of the most important diagnostic tools modern medicine has at its disposal, but if patients are reluctant, or even actively avoid blood draws, then we need to find ways to alleviate the pain and discomfort or other causes keeping them from getting these procedures,” said Mark Dursztman, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and Assistant Attending Physician, The New York Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell Campus. “The fear of needles and needle stick pain is a real and significant health problem, one that needs to be addressed.”
The survey, sponsored by Vyteris Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: VYHN), a leading developer of drug delivery products, was conducted to learn more about the incidence and prevalence of high discomfort and needle phobic behavior around routine blood draws and injections. It found that slightly more than half the general population either had or were requested to have a blood draw or injection in the past six months. Fourteen percent, or approximately 15 million adults, identified themselves as being either needle phobic or having high discomfort around getting their blood drawn.
Of those 15 million needle-phobic adults, approximately 3.5 million indicated they had refused a blood draw or chose not to receive a recommended injection at some point in their life. Twenty five percent indicated that the consequences of these refusals were varied and serious, both from a health and economic standpoint, and directly impacted the patient’s quality of life. Over half of the respondents indicated that they did not receive necessary medical care because of the refusal, or made a change in the kind of care they were receiving. Some lost job offers, others did not receive insurance coverage and some were denied admission to school because of the refusal to get blood work done.
“Needle phobia has a direct impact on my ability to deliver necessary healthcare services, and is an important public health issue,” said Dursztman. “The findings underscore how widespread the issue is, and directly correlate to my personal experience as a physician dealing with patients. Needle phobia can be a significant impediment to understanding a patient’s complete health profile. The healthcare community needs to advance more solutions to deal with needle stick pain.”
The survey also found approximately five million children between the ages of five and 19 were characterized as being needle phobic or having high discomfort around blood draws and injections. Additionally, 26 percent of these needle-phobic children experienced extreme discomfort, the highest level of discomfort, at their last blood draw or injection.
The prevalence of blood draws and injections are high with physician offices and diagnostic laboratories estimated to take more than 900,000 blood draws daily in the U.S.
Despite the high rate of anxiety surrounding procedures, the options for dealing with needle stick pain are limited. The survey found the majority of both adults and children used distraction techniques — such as looking away, humming or focusing on an object — to deal with their discomfort. They found these techniques only moderately effective at best in minimizing their discomfort.
The American Pain Society (APS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) set forth guidelines for adequately addressing acute – or short-lived – pain. These guidelines, which apply to the treatment of children and adults, call for healthcare practitioners to eliminate or reduce pain caused by medical treatments whenever possible. In fact, the APS and AAP agree that acute pain experienced with medical procedures can, in most cases, be substantially reduced and even prevented.
About the Survey
On behalf of Vyteris, the survey was conducted by TVG in October and November of 2006. Overall, 11,460 consumers were screened to identify patients with high discomfort levels with venipuncture or injection. A total of 1,010 respondents completed on-line surveys focused on this subject. The national panel from which these consumers were recruited is aligned with the general population across multiple metrics. The overall sampling error for this survey is +/- 3.5%.
About Vyteris, Inc.
Vyteris, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Vyteris Holdings (Nevada), Inc. (OTCBB: VYHN.OB), are the makers of the first active drug delivery patch to receive marketing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Vyteris’ proprietary active transdermal drug delivery (iontophoresis) technology delivers drugs comfortably through the skin using low-level electrical energy. This active patch technology allows precise dosing, giving physicians and patients control in the rate, dosage and pattern of drug delivery that can result in considerable therapeutic, economical, and lifestyle advantages over existing methods of drug administration. Vyteris’ first product, LidoSite(R), which provides dermal analgesia prior to venipuncture (IV catheter insertions, blood draws, etc.) and superficial dermatological procedures, was the first FDA approved active patch. Vyteris has also successfully demonstrated in-vivo, either in animals or in humans, the ability of their active patch technology to deliver drugs transdermally for the following applications: smoking cessation, anti-aging cosmeceuticals, treatments for Parkinson’s disease, and peptides for various indications.