Overcoming Fear: 3 Essential Tips for Using Self-Injection Devices

Self Injection Device

Self-injecting drug delivery systems are safe and effective. They are widely used in the treatment of various chronic conditions.

However, it’s still common for many people to feel nervous about using them. This is especially true for patients who are afraid of needles but must self-inject to manage their health conditions.

“Trypanophobia” is excessive needle and injection dread. Needle phobia affects 10% of U.S. adults, although it’s more frequent in youngsters. Needles can frighten even non-phobic people, especially those new to self-injection.

Some people experience fear of needles in a medical setting to such an extent that they are willing to avoid or delay care, endangering their well-being. It is essential for them to overcome their hesitation or fear of injections for them to move forward with their treatment plan.

This blog gives more insight into three things that patients with a fear of self-injections and their care providers need to know: 

  1. What Causes Self Injection Fears and Phobias
  2. Overcoming One’s Fears: Actionable Self-Injection Anxiety Tips
  3. Novel Ways to Manage Self-Injection Anxiety

What Causes Self-injection Fears and Phobias?

Fears and phobias related to self-injections have many possible causes and contributing factors. The following are some examples.

  • Fear of Pain: The thought of pain from self-injecting may deter some people. Anxiety over an impending self-injection can make the event itself feel more frightening than it is.
  • Life Events: A phobia or fear of needles in medical settings could stem from past negative experiences with injections. For instance, a patient who fainted while being vaccinated as a child could develop a fear of injections that carries on into adulthood.
  • Fear of needles may also stem from witnessing a loved one having a negative injection experience.
  • Mental, Behavioral and Emotional Disorders: Examples include anxiety disorder and disabilities that impact touch and movement. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals with such disorders may find it more challenging to manage their fear of injections.

Overcoming One’s Fears: Actionable Self-Injection Anxiety Tips

Self-injection fears and phobias may be managed through one or a combination of the following approaches.

1. Relaxation and Distraction

Deep breathing exercises relieve anxiety. Slow, full breaths calm, relax, and clear the mind. Box breathing, also known as four-square breathing, involves inhaling for four, holding for four, and releasing for four. Multiple repetitions can help a patient relax.

Distracting oneself during the injection process can also reduce anxiety. Engaging in an activity that commands attention, such as listening to music, watching a video or talking to a friend, can help to take the patient’s mind off the self-injection process.

2. Enlisting the Help of a “Support Person”

Having a friend, family member or caregiver present during self-injection can help ease a patient’s stress and fear surrounding self-injection. Sharing concerns and anxieties with a trusted individual can release tension, while the support person’s presence helps create a comforting, supportive atmosphere.

3. Undergoing Exposure Therapy

Gradual desensitization (exposure treatment) helps manage self-injection anxiety. This evidence-based method gradually exposes people to feared stimuli, such as needles and self-injection devices, in a safe and controlled environment.

This can be done in small steps, such as handling the autoinjector, practicing the injection technique on a piece of fruit or cushion, using injection training devices and eventually moving on to self-injecting with minimal or no anxiety. Patients interested in trying exposure therapy to conquer their fear or phobia of self-injections should consult a healthcare professional for a treatment plan that includes achievable goals and evaluations of their progress.

Novel Ways to Manage Self-Injection Anxiety

Needle Training and Adherence Tools

Patients acknowledge that increased training might help decrease their self-injection anxiety. In a study conducted by Noble and presented at an industry conference in 2015, drug delivery devices with needle simulation technology were found to reduce anxiety compared with traditional training and no training. Sixty-four percent of users reported having a training device to practice with at home would help decrease self-injection anxiety. Meanwhile, 89 percent of users reported that having the most realistic training available was very important.

Training Devices

In addition to its drug delivery technology, Noble also offers a syringe angle aid training tool. It is designed to help patients learn the correct angle for subcutaneous injection using a precisely measured channel as a guide.

Noble also offers other training devices that replicate actual autoinjectors and even prefilled syringes, allowing patients to practice self-injecting until they gain confidence in their ability to do so unaided. These can help alleviate their anxieties over self-injection, particularly if these stem from a lack of knowledge or a fear of harming themselves through incorrect techniques.

“Smart” Onboarding Solutions

Beyond practicing with training devices, patients can leverage smart technology and onboarding solutions to manage their fear of needles and self-injections. “The use of innovative ‘onboarding’ programs and advances in drug delivery through the use of prefilled syringes and autoinjectors can also serve as an integral component to successful patient compliance,” says Joe Reynolds, Research Manager of Noble International Inc.

Needle trainers with intelligent features can provide real-time feedback to ensure proper use. Newly developed adherence devices equipped with “smart” technology give patients information about their performance as it is happening in real time. This allows patients to gauge just how well they are performing the injection steps.

These automated innovations are designed to work with a patient’s smart devices to detect and monitor each step of their self-injection—and wirelessly collect data as it’s going on. They can provide the patient with everything from reminders to error messages that pop right up on their phone or tablet.

Noble’s AdhereIT® is an easy-to-use onboarding solution that helps patients who need to use autoinjectors to administer their medications. It also allows healthcare professionals to monitor patients’ performance through a smart analytical dashboard, providing valuable information on patient-specific adherence behavior.

The AdhereIT® 360 Base and AdhereIT® 360 Clip accurately detect when a patient’s injection starts and ends. To use it for needle training, the patient places the device on the injection site, then inserts and activates their training autoinjector. A linked mobile app guides patients through the self-injection process, and the patient is given visual and audio feedback to indicate if they have correctly or incorrectly administered their self-injection.

Once the patient has practiced enough to gain confidence in their self-injection skills, they can reset the AdhereIT® device and use it to guide and monitor their administration of the true autoinjector.

“The most important thing our devices can possibly do for patients is to provide them with a sense of self-confidence when it comes to their self-injections,” explains Mr. Reynolds. “Once they feel that self-confidence and are convinced they can inject safely and in the manner that their doctors have prescribed, they can feel assured that they are getting the best care possible.”

What Patients and Care Providers Can Do for Self-Injection Anxiety

Individuals struggling with self-injection due to fear or anxiety can explore and practice the self-injection anxiety tips discussed in this blog post. They may also contact their doctors or other care providers to inquire about training devices and onboarding platforms that can help increase their knowledge of and boost their confidence in using autoinjectors.

Care providers and medical facilities may also consider having these devices readily available not just for patients experiencing fear of self-injection but also for those who need help with practicing injection techniques and familiarizing themselves with the autoinjector mechanism.

Empower Patients With Innovative Medical Device Training Solutions

An Aptar company, Noble is a global industry leader in medical device training solutions and patient onboarding strategies. To learn more about Noble products and services, please get in touch.