Injection Anxiety: Does it Affect Recall Abilities in Travelers?
Many of us remember being frightened of needles and injections when we were young. Although most people outgrow this fear or learn to live with the slight anxiety that may be triggered, others develop a very real phobia of needles. They may shake, sweat or even pass out. People with a fear of injections may try to avoid them whenever possible, even when doing so is detrimental to their health.
A new study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine has suggested that injection anxiety and/or needle phobia can actually have a negative impact on the recipient’s ability to recall important health information that is verbally communicated to them at the time of the vaccination. This study used the responses of 105 participants in order to test their ability to remember what was told to them during a vaccination at a travel health clinic. Participants completed a questionnaire before and after the procedure and the information was compiled and analyzed.
The researchers found that 39 percent of participants reported an experience of injection anxiety during their visit to the clinic. Self-rated anxiety and specialist-diagnosed anxiety tended to correlate with each other. The ability of participants to recall information varied widely.
Injection/Needle Phobia: The Negative Impact on Travel Health
If a travel health patient tends to “blank out” the words and actions surrounding the injection procedure, he or she is missing out on valuable information. For example, a patient who does not remember receiving a certain vaccine or booster shot will struggle to explain medical history should a health emergency arise overseas. In a remote area with non-standard medical access, this could mean the difference between life and death.
The study in question concludes that while there was no relationship between recall and anxiety, there were still concerning gaps in the participants’ abilities to recall travel risks. This fact alone should be a source of concern both for travel health specialists and patients.
Minimizing Anxiety During Your Travel Health Visit
If you have a fear of needles and tend to become anxious prior to an inoculation, be sure to discuss this with your travel health specialist as soon as possible. The specialist will be able to talk to you about your fears and help ease your anxiety. He or she may suggest distracting you during the actual injection so that you do not see what is happening. The specialist may also check to see if there are alternative ways to administer a vaccine to you.
Combating Injection Anxiety: Part of Safeguarding Health During Travel
Injection anxiety is a very real phobia for many people, and the effect that it has on memory may lead to problems later on. Not being able to remember details about allergic reactions or specific dates for booster doses can complicate treatment if someone falls ill overseas.
At Passport Health, our travel health specialists understand the fear that many people associate with vaccinations. This is why we offer a travel health booklet to all of our patients. You can take it home with you and bring it along on your trip so that you can recall important information without associating it with the anxious feelings you may have when you receive an injection. Your travel health specialist wants to make your health a first priority — remember, the needles are there to help you, not harm you.