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Fear of venepuncture as a barrier to testing for blood-borne infection and use of an oral fluid test as an alternative to venepuncture in a genitourinary medicine clinic
  1. H L McClean1,
  2. A J Taylor2,
  3. A M Mortimer3
  1. 1Genitourinary Medicine Clinic, Sexual Health Resource Centre, Hull Primary Care NHS Trust, Hull, UK
  2. 2Public Health Science, Hull Primary Care NHS Trust, Willerby, East Yorkshire, UK
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, University of Hull, Hull, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Hugo L McClean
 Genitourinary Medicine Clinic, Hull Primary Care NHS Trust, Sexual Health Resource Centre, Conifer House, 32–36 Prospect Street, Hull HU2 8PX, UK; Hugo.McClean{at}


Objective: A survey of 505 consecutive patients attending a UK genitourinary medicine clinic (GUM) included a psychometric tool to compute a fear of venepuncture (FOV) score, responses to the offer of venepuncture and to alternative testing.

Method: An oral fluid test (OFT) was available to test for blood-borne infection (BBI). Completed fear scores were provided by 299 (59%) patients routinely offered venepuncture, of whom 72 (24%) who did not have venepuncture had higher fear scores compared with 227 (76%) who had venepuncture (p<0.001).

Results: Both FOV and female sex were independent predictors of not having venepuncture.

Conclusions:: FOV is an important barrier to uptake of venepuncture. FOV maynot always be recognised by health carers. OFT is an acceptable alternative test for some patients with needle aversion who decline venepuncture.

  • BBI, blood-borne inection
  • FOV, fear of venepuncture
  • GUMed, genitourinary medicine, OFT
  • oral fluid testing

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  • Funding: None.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • This study was approved by the local research ethics committee (Hull & East Riding, University of Hull), and patient consent was obtained. The study obtained the relevant NHS management approval set out in the UK Framework for Research Governance in Health and Social Care, including successful peer review.

  • Copies of the questionnaire are available on request from H L McClean.

  • H L McClean conceived and designed the study, collected and analysed the data, and prepared drafts, and is the guarantor. A T carried out the logistic regression analyses and contributed towards data interpretation and writing of the paper. A M helped with the study design and interpretation of study findings.

  • Published Online First 10 November 2006