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6th October 2023 Latest News

Support for dialysis patients to overcome fear of needles

Gorjana Radisic INJECT

Kidney failure is a complex, debilitating illness and about 15,000 Australians rely on renal dialysis to sustain their life.

The average renal patient on haemodialysis will have two large bore needles inserted three times a week – or more than 300 needle insertions a year.A study of 551 dialysis patients by Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CAHLN) found 36 per cent of patients reported needle fear.

Some renal patients require a local anaesthetic prior to dialysis because of needle fear, while some patients might make decisions to avoid dialysis, resulting in catastrophic effects on their health.

But, thanks to your donations, KTDRA has funded the INJECT program, which aims to improve needle fear management in haemodialysis patients at Central Northern Adelaide Renal and Transplantation Services (CNARTS).

Currently, there are no validated measures to identify people with a fear of needles and no tested interventions for assistance.

However, a team of nephrologists, psychologists, researchers and nurse practitioners have developed a suite of nurse and patient support measures.

INJECT includes programs for dialysis nursing staff to recognise and identify patients with needle fear and support them by providing the best needling practices available.

Gorjana Radisic, INJECT project manager, said the program also has “significant potential” to be transferred to other areas of healthcare and chronic diseases.

“The program will deliver highly desired, tangible tools and real changes in care for patients that will be transformative to their daily experience and enable them to live the best life possible,” she said.

“It will help people living with kidney disease achieve critical life goals and reduce the painful burden of their treatment.”

The suite of resources includes:

  • A mandatory education program for dialysis nurses promoting best practice needling principles and techniques
  • An education program to help patients understand and manage their fear
  • A tool to measure needle fear in patients before and after they start dialysis
  • A survey for patients who are administered an anaesthetic before dialysis for a report on pain management inflicted by AVF cannulation
  • A Buzzy device – a non-invasive, non-pharmacologic alternative for pain management option for needle inflicted pain, (currently being trialled in a small cohort of patients).

The pilot program has been completed and its evaluation is underway.

“The nurse education program is already mandatory for all nurses performing cannulation at CALHN,” Gorjana said.