Many people dislike needle-sticks. But once the fear becomes persistent, excessive, and unreasonable, it’s a phobia (belonephobia, needle-phobia, trypanophobia). Although not well recognized, belonephobia affects up to 10% of people.

In a Medscape article, Dr. Mary Muscari, who is Professor and Director of Forensic Health/Nursing at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, discusses the signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments — which emphasize CAM.

Step 1: Recognition and relaxation.

  • Identify those at risk and discuss procedures to help alleviate fear of the unknown.

In people with a score of greater than 3 on a 10-point anxiety scale, the following treatments are recommended.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Counseling
  • Distraction
  • Relaxation
  • Hypnosis

Step 2: Control and preparation.

  • Encourage participation in decision-making and to find the best ways to relieve tension.

Step 3: Graded exposure.

  • Use toys, diagrams, and graphics to illustrate the procedural steps, graduating to medical equipment.

Finally, medications might be useful for some individuals.

5/8/07 20:47 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.