Management of blood-drawing fears in adolescents with comorbid anxiety and depressive disorders

Gail A Bernstein, Suzy E. Peterson, Amy R. Perwien, Carrie M. Borchardt, Matt G Kushner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


As more pharmacologic treatment and research on child and adolescent psychiatric patients are conducted, the common problem of blood-drawing fears will need to be addressed. Avoidance of blood-drawing could jeopardize an individual's physical and mental health, and inhibit the collection of data aimed at furthering the study of psychiatric disorders in youth. This report describes the naturalistic application of specific techniques for managing severe blood-drawing fears in adolescent subjects undergoing a clinical trial. The adolescents (ages 12-18) were 44 consecutive school refusers with comorbid anxiety and major depressive disorders. Of the school-refusing adolescents, 27% (12 of 44) were observed to have a severe fear of blood-drawing. A management strategy comprised of providing information, distraction, supportive reassurance, and exposure appeared successful in managing the fears of blood-drawing in all of the adolescents, except two. These 2 adolescents refused to enter the treatment study due to a marked fear of blood-drawing. All 10 subjects who exhibited a fear of blood-drawing and were able to complete the initial blood test, using the interventions noted, were able to obtain subsequent venipunctures with minimal or no avoidance behavior. These preliminary findings suggest that blood-drawing fears can be effectively managed in most cases, though controlled studies of these interventions are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


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