7 Ways of Calming a Patient Before a Shot

fear of injections

Fear of injections is difficult to overcome. In clinical settings, it’s almost typical to encounter a patient who is afraid of shots. During these times, it is important to calm a patient before giving a shot to avoid the patient incurring trauma.

If you are just getting started with your career as a nurse, take note of the following helpful strategies in how to calm a patient before a shot:

1. Start a good conversation

A meaningful conversation is a good distraction for patients with fear of shots. As you prepare in giving your patient an injection, explore his interests. Once your patient’s attention is hooked, their focus will shift to the topic you are talking about.

From Nurse May
“After explaining the procedure to the patient, I usually engage them in conversation. I ask about their hobbies or favorite movies. Once they get excited about sharing their stuff with me, they usually don’t even notice that I’ve finished.”

Nurse and elderly man spending time together

2. Instruct them to take a deep breath

Before giving an injection, instruct your patient to take a deep breath and exhale like they’re blowing out a candle. Give the injection as your patient exhales. During exhalation, tensed muscles are able to relax so the patient will feel less pain when receiving injections.

From Nurse Timothy
“When giving injections, patients sometimes get anxious. Injections are more painful when muscles are all tensed up. To prevent this, I instruct them to take a deep breath and exhale forcefully. I give the shot as they exhale and they hardly feel it.”


Also Read: 15 of the Most Common Pet Peeves

3. Tell a good joke

Most patients feel panicky when receiving a shot. They feel nervous, sweaty and uncomfortable. You can help them overcome their nervousness by telling a good joke. Humor is a good form of distraction as laughter can help nervous patients feel relieved and relaxed. Telling a good joke can also help you establish rapport with your patient.

From Nurse Cathy
“I never thought I’d be able to use my sense of humor at work. I found out though that if I joke with patients while I’m giving a shot, the whole ordeal passes by almost unnoticed. The good laugh helps them relax and forget about the pain from the injection given.”

nurse joking

4. Use applied tension

Before giving a shot, ask your patients if they have history of fainting when receiving shots. If they do, teach them how to use applied tension.

Applied tension is a technique of increasing low blood pressure levels back to normal range to prevent fainting. To do this, tense your muscles in the arms, legs and upper body for ten to fifteen seconds. Once you feel the warmth rising in your face, release the tension and relax. Do this repeatedly until you feel your blood pressure has gone back to normal levels.

From Nurse Linda
“I always assess my patients if they have a tendency to pass out during injections. If they do, I teach them how to use applied tension. I let them practice this technique while prepping.”

Also Read: 35 IV Therapy Tips & Tricks for Nurses

5. Ask them to repeat your statements

This strategy is effective among kids with fear of injections. Just instruct them to repeat what you are going to say. Use statements that will tickle their imagination so they can divert their attention away from the injection.

From Nurse Ben
“When giving shots to children, I tell them to repeat what I’m going to say. I’m playful in choosing the statements they need to repeat like “My nurse smells like clouds” or “My nurse rides a unicorn to work”. Most kids have follow-up questions like “What do the clouds smell like?” or “How can you ride a unicorn?”. During those times, they barely notice that their shots are already done!”

nurse with children

Also Read: How to Perform IV Insertions on Pediatric Patients

6. Sing with your patient

Ask your patients about their favorite songs and sing it with them. Most people find singing a relaxing way to divert their attention. Their focus in hitting the right notes and remembering the words will make the pain from injection less noticeable.

From Nurse Kate
“When giving shots, I often ask my patients to sing with me. I let them pick their song and we sing together. This technique is most effective among elderly patients.”

nurse singing
Via trivalleycentral.com

7. Provide them with the right information

Don’t provide unrealistic assurances to your patients when giving shots. Tell them that the shot will hurt but you will do it quickly to lessen the pain. Stating how small the needle is or how other patients reacted to this shot may also help. Never give false reassurances.

From Nurse Heather
“When prepping patients for a shot, I always tell them how it is. I tell them how other patients react to it and how I will do my best to lessen the pain. After giving the shot, they are often surprised that it’s not really painful since they anticipated worse pain.”

Also Read: 5 Effective Ways to Deal with Difficult Patients

You can learn more strategies in calming down a patient during injections by asking tips from your older colleagues. Ask for their time-tested techniques in how they give shots to patients who are afraid of injections. They often have ingenious injection hacks for difficult patients and you can best learn from them.

How about you? Do you have other tactics in managing patients with fear of injections? Share them with your fellow nurses here at NurseBuff.