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Needle Anxiety

by Joseph Gustaitis

There can’t be many people who actually like giving themselves injections, but to what extent people might dislike it can vary a lot. Recently, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) announced the results of a survey of some 500 people with diabetes who take insulin injections, either with a syringe or an insulin pen. The survey was called the “Injection Impact Report.”

It will come as no surprise that a lot of people didn’t like injecting themselves. About one out of three said that they had “experienced some level of dread” about their insulin injections. Fourteen percent said that insulin injections had a negative impact on their life. Nearly 30% reported that injecting insulin was the hardest part of their diabetes care. Some people had changed their eating schedule on occasion to avoid an injection, and some had even skipped an injection altogether at times.

Despite all this discontent, the surveyors were surprised to learn that over half of the people they interviewed did not proactively discuss their injection concerns with their health-care providers. Why? Many of them thought that bringing up such a discussion would be a bother to the provider.

Would it be? Not at all, the survey discovered. It found that seven out of ten health-care professionals were well aware of the effect that insulin injections have on their patients. This looks like a classic “failure to communicate.” And that’s exactly the problem that the survey was meant to confront. As the president of the AADE explained, the survey had two goals: to “encourage patients to take a more proactive role in communicating with their health-care team” and “to dispel the myth that health-care providers were unaware of or unwilling” to deal with the injection issue.

Communication with one’s health-care provider is especially important for people with diabetes. The condition is unique in the way it puts the responsibility on the person who has diabetes to carry out most of his treatment plan. If a dislike of injections causes a person to skip injections, his treatment plan is jeopardized and his risk of complications goes up. Knowing that one’s health-care provider is willing to listen and to talk about ways of making injections more tolerable might help a person initiate a valuable discussion.

Details of the survey can be found at the Web site of the “Injection Impact Report,” which is at www.injectionimpact.com. At that site you can also download a brochure entitled “A Guide to Speaking with Your Healthcare Provider About Injections.” Among its suggestions are creating a daily journal that notes any problems you may be having and keeping a diary for two weeks before your scheduled checkup. The diary can include such information as your blood glucose levels, meals, exercise, social situations in which an injection had an impact, and how family and friends perceive the impact of your injections.

 

 

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