Developing a Needle Anxiety Programme for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

If you're working in healthcare with children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, here's an interesting article about developing a Needle Anxiety Program: A Patient-Centered Initiative for Individuals With Developmental Disabilities. We're happy to see Buzzy included in their approach as a distraction and pain management device.

The aim of this paper is to present the design and lessons learned in developing a patient-centered needle anxiety protocol in a primary care setting. The overall goal of this process is to close the health equity gap for children and adults with IDD and/or needle-related anxiety by removing barriers to routine needle-related medical procedures in outpatient facilities.

Children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experience significant health disparities compared to the general population. Specifically, people with IDD are at increased risk for mental and physical health challenges - such as depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and metabolic issues. The compounding effects of these health issues have a significant impact on people with IDD, leading to a lower life expectancy for this population.

Further driving health disparities for people with IDD is low healthcare utilization rates. Many of the co-occurring health challenges for people with IDD require routine needle-related medical procedures (e.g. vaccinations, blood draws) at a primary healthcare setting. However, many individuals with IDD experience needle-related anxiety that hinders the utilization of procedural medical care. People with IDD often experience greater levels of pain and sensory stimulation that make needle-related procedures intolerable. Forcing the uptake of needle-related procedures can be traumatizing for an individual, leading to avoidance of routine healthcare in the future. On the other hand, when healthcare providers do not want to inflict undue stress on a patient with IDD and needle-related anxiety, they may skip the procedure entirely. This puts the patient at increased risk for more severe health complications in the long term. Consequently, addressing needle-related anxiety is crucial to improving the overall quality of life for people with IDD.

Read full paper here: Children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities