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Gender and Behaviour

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Exploring needle anxiety among students attending a Nigerian university health centre

Rabi Ilemona Ekore

Abstract


Needle anxiety, a form of specific phobia refers to an intense fear of needles used for various medical procedures. It may result in the avoidance of such needle-involving procedures like intramuscular injections or vaccinations. About 4-8% of children and adolescents are said to generally suffer some form of anxiety. More females than males are affected. The study took place at the University Health Service (Jaja Clinic), University of Ibadan and the participants were adolescent and young adult students. It was a descriptive cross-sectional study. Convenience sampling method was used to recruit participants who filled the self-administered short-form injection phobia scale- anxiety (IPS-SF). Data was analysed using SPSS 21. A total of 135 questionnaires were completely filled and returned by the study participants. The mean age of the participants was 22.6 (±4.1) years. There were 70 (51.9%) female and 65 (48.1%) male participants. The mean anxiety score obtained from the study was 14.2 (±6.8) points. Five (3.7%) of the respondents reported no anxiety, 61 (45.2%) met the criterion for low anxiety levels while 69 (51.1%) met the criterion for high anxiety levels. Female respondents had a mean anxiety score of 14.9 (±6.5) while the male respondents had mean anxiety score of 13.4 (±7.1). The difference between both means was however, not significant (t = 1.35, p = 0.18). Cross-tabulation of sex and anxiety levels revealed that high levels of anxiety were reported more by the female respondents while low levels of anxiety were reported more by the male respondents. The highest level of anxiety reported was for venipuncture, followed by having a shot of injection in the upper arm, then having an anesthetic injection at the dentist’s and getting an injection in the buttock. Age was not a significant factor in the total anxiety score. This study revealed a high prevalence of needle anxiety among the study participants. Health care workers should endeavor to inquire about needle anxiety, determine its severity in every patient and make necessary efforts at reducing anxiety levels in persons affected before any medical procedure involving needles.

Keywords: Needle anxiety; undergraduates; cognitive behavioural therapy; anaesthesia




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