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Equitable access for fear of needles treatment

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

At a time when vaccination rates are measured and analysed to ensure the success of a Government’s health strategy, an individual’s fear of needles can be the deterrent that no politician wants to see. But when it comes to supporting such individuals, it turns out this is simply another area of healthcare provision which isn’t quite equitable.

The difference between equality and equity is in the provision to enable access. With equality, everyone is offered the same opportunities, through standardised channels so that uptake is available for all. When it comes to equity, it is about looking at each group and identifying what they will need to be able to access those opportunities which are offered to all for an equal outcome. In this instance, access to supportive programmes which will help sufferers of needle fear, which is the ultimate barrier to accessing the Covid-19 vaccine.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, achieving equitable access to treatment for trypanophobia, or simply the Covid-19 vaccine, is possible through a number of pathways. Clear communication is always key to developing trust among the population, but targeting the messaging to accommodate for the needs of different cultural groups is important. Messaging around the vaccine can help build and share knowledge to enable understanding of what is available and positive information that empowers their decision making.

Ultimately, creativity is required to ensure that equity is achieved for all groups, and looking at the developing nature of healthcare provision is a key component. One such example is the Ministry of Health’s telehealth service on the island of Matakana. Delivering the video appointments to local residents, that are then followed up by in person appointments by the visiting GP, this service has improved health outcomes for the local Māori population. This progress towards equity is the result of collaboration between local residents, Māori health providers and the Ministry of Health.

With an increasing number of technological services that can support an individual’s wellbeing, virtual reality could have a significant impact, particularly with the younger, perhaps disengaged, generation. Utilising digital media for the most digitally literate generation will surely have a significant impact. The immersive experiences offered by exposure therapy, applied through virtual reality, will engage them from the outset, driving up the statistics for equitable outcomes. What is more, through an alternative pathway to treatment, from the GP surgery or drop-in clinic approaches, it may attract those from other cultural groups who are disinclined to engage through the more traditional avenues.

With this in mind, there are opportunities to support equitable access for fear of needles treatment, and that is something that oVRcome is well placed to do. With the use of technology to engage users and deliver a state of the art service, alongside the expertise of clinical psychologists, it is an alternative pathway from the traditional route to managing a phobia. Not to mention the lack of wait times which patients regularly experience with the overloaded healthcare system, the impact of exposure therapy through virtual reality experiences can be much quicker. In a Covid climate, where a move to eliminate and vaccinate is central to governmental agendas, this could be key.

If you want to get started, why not take our free fear of needles test? It takes just a couple of minutes to complete, with the results compiled into an easy to read report delivered straight to your email inbox.

Alternatively, if you’d like to learn more, why not read more about virtual reality and exposure therapy? It takes a look at the process of exposure therapy and how it is applied using modern technology to achieve positive outcomes, with particular reference to fears and anxiety.

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