Needles are scary. For many patients—and for people in general—needles and the thought of injections are two frightening prospects for them to overcome. In many instances, the promise of needles and injections is enough to make patients forget the benefits they will receive from treatment, even when they want the treatment. How then can practitioners overcome patient objection to injection therapy and needles and provide the treatments patients need?
Let’s look at what typically drives objections, ways to overcome these obstacles, and potential alternatives that scared patients may prefer.
The following are typical drivers that cause patients to object treatment. When trying to overcome their “no,” it’s best to understand what is causing the objection in the first place.
Trypanophobia: Needle Phobia
Fear is a key component of patient objection. Every patient in their way will come with their own fears regarding treatment, and many of them will be able to overcome that fear without issue. For those who suffer from trypanophobia, or “the extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles,” overcoming their fears is an entirely different matter.1
If a patient is needle phobic, symptoms typically include high blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, elevated heart rate, panic attacks, as well as extreme anxiety leading up to and during the visit.2 Due to their high state of fear, it is important to exercise caution when treating these patients as this level of fear may cause them to act out aggressively or act contrary to their typical behavior.1 This fear could be a life-long affliction that may have been learned when they were young, making it very difficult for patients to work against.
Lack of Understanding
When patients come for therapy, they already have preconceived notions and assumptions about what the treatment(s) will be like. But what many do not have is a clear understanding of what is actually going to happen. This lack of understanding can cause misgivings about the treatment, especially if a patient is already afraid of injections and needles. People who come in with a clear “no” in their mind are hard to convert into a “yes.” When a patient’s health is on the line, missing information or misinformation are both difficult and potentially dangerous obstacles.
What’s the Real Benefit?
As with fear and lack of understanding, a perceived lack of benefit is a difficult objection to overcome. Spurned on by fear and missing information, patients may quip “but I’m used to X, so it’s not a big deal.” For these patients, they do not fully understand the real benefit(s) of the injection treatment. Instead, they may see this treatment as optional and unnecessary when it could be a game changer for their quality of life. Perceived lack of benefit could not only stop patients from receiving their first injection but also stop them from receiving any necessary follow ups.
Ways to Overcome Objection
Ready to overcome their objection? Here are three ways to help get you on the right path.
Providing patients with clear expectations of the treatment upfront is a huge step in overcoming patient objections. No one likes to be blindsided, so being transparent about what the treatment is, how long it will last, what will actually be performed, and more can help calm nerves. For many patients, the fear of the unknown or the perceived danger is what keeps them fearful. Instead, it is better to set up what they can expect from the start so nothing is a surprise that could cause panic.
Answer the “Why?”
Like with setting clear expectations, answering the “why” can help patients gain some perspective. Plus, answering why a treatment is necessary can also grant patients more agency over their own health. As you well know, many patients do not understand fully why they need a certain type of treatment. Explaining the “why” allows people to “buy in” to the treatment, which increases their willingness to accept treatment rather than be afraid of it.
The Art of Listening
Another great element in overcoming patient objection is the art of listening. Patients want to feel heard, especially when they’re afraid or don’t understand. Engaging in conversation with them, hearing their concerns, informing them, and building your patient relationship are the perfect ways to earn their trust. This trust can help them feel more comfortable about the injection and may help them get over their fears, especially when they know why it’s happening, what they can expect, and the person performing the treatment.
Depending on the treatment type, a potential alternative to injections is iontophoresis. Iontophoresis, a therapeutic modality that uses electrical stimulation to deliver medication through the skin, is a great way to treat and rehabilitate patients suffering from discomfort, inflammation, swelling, and more.3 As an alternative that is free of needles, this may be perfect for those with trypanophobia or others who find it difficult to have regular injections.
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1Fritscher, Lisa. “How Do You Get Over a Chronic Fear of Needles?” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 15 Sept. 2019, www.verywellmind.com/trypanophobia-2671700.
2“Trypanophobia” Healthline, 2020, www.healthline.com/health/trypanophobia.
3Sears, Brett. “How Do Physical Therapists Administer Medication With Iontophoresis?” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, 14 Jan. 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/iontophoresis-in-physical-therapy-2696534.