Far from “just a poke”: common painful needle procedures and the development of needle fear
Pillai Riddell, Rebecca
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Background: Vaccine injections are the most common painful needle procedure experienced throughout the lifespan. Many strategies are available to mitigate this pain; however, they are uncommonly utilized, leading to unnecessary pain and suffering. Some individuals develop a high level of fear and subsequent needle procedures are associated with significant distress. Objective: The present work is part of an update and expansion of a 2009 knowledge synthesis to include the management of vaccine-related pain across the lifespan and the treatment of individuals with high levels of needle fear. This article will provide a conceptual foundation for understanding: (a) painful procedures and their role in the development and maintenance of high levels of fear; (b) treatment strategies for preventing or reducing the experience of pain and the development of fear; and (c) interventions for mitigating high levels of fear once they are established. Results: First, the general definitions, lifespan development and functionality, needle procedure-related considerations, and assessment of the following constructs are provided: pain, fear, anxiety, phobia, distress, and vasovagal syncope. Second, the importance of unmitigated pain from needle procedures is highlighted from a developmental perspective. Third, the prevalence, course, etiology, and consequences of high levels of needle fear are described. Finally, the management of needle-related pain and fear are outlined to provide an introduction to the series of systematic reviews in this issue. Discussion: Through the body of work in this supplement, the authors aim to provide guidance in how to treat vaccination-related pain and its sequelae, including high levels of needle fear.