Canadian Journal of Pain
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Background: Clinicians commonly advise patients to look away from the needle during vaccinations; however, this recommendation is not evidence based. Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether looking at the needle versus looking away affects pain and fear during vaccinations in adults. Methods: This was a pilot randomized two-group parallel trial with university students receiving influenza vaccinations. Participants were stratified according to their initial needle-looking preference and randomly assigned to either look at versus away from the needle. Participants self-reported their pain and fear during vaccination. Results: Of the 184 subjects who agreed to participate, 160 were enrolled; 66% were female. A three-way analysis of variance (ANOVA; Looking allocation assignment × Looking preference × Sex) revealed a significant main effect of looking allocation assignment on fear (P = 0.025); those who were randomized to look had higher fear scores than those who were randomized to look away. There was also a significant main effect of looking preference on fear (P < 0.001); those who preferred to look away had higher fear scores than those who preferred to look. There was no evidence of an effect of looking allocation assignment or looking preference on pain. There was a significant main effect of sex on fear and pain, with females reporting higher pain and fear scores than males (P = 0.017 and P = 0.001, respectively). There were no significant interactions. Conclusion: These preliminary findings suggest that advising individuals to look away from the needle reduces fear. A larger trial including more individuals and a different population is recommended to confirm the results.