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Needles hurt less when you look away, new study shows

Looking away can ease the pain caused by a medical injection, a new study shows.

Jeffrey Hamilton/Getty Images

The next time a nurse is ready to plunge a needle into your arm, look away. There's new scientific evidence that it will hurt less.

In an uncomfortable-sounding experiment, German study participants received "painful or non-painful electrical stimuli" to one of their hands while watching a video of a hand with either a needle touching it, a Q-tip touching it, or a hand alone. They were led to believe the video image was of their own hand.

Participants who watched the needle video reported more intense and unpleasant pain than both those who watched the Q-tip video or the hand alone.

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The takeaway: Look at the arm or hand that is not about to be pricked.

Maybe this is just the news public health officials need to disseminate in order to boost flu shot rates. A new study suggests that parents of kids under two are not taking to the free flu-shot program, according to the Hamilton Spectator.

The U.S. study found vaccination rates among Ontario children aged six to 23 months is very low, and has been since the province started encouraging flu shots for under-twos in 2003, reports the paper.

The rate of toddlers who were fully immunized for flu from 2002 to 2009 never topped 10 per cent, according to the Spectator.

The study's senior author, Astrid Guttmann, a pediatrician at the Hospital for Sick Children and a senior scientist at Toronto's Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, points to "vaccine fatigue" among parents and "concern on the part of doctors that flu vaccinations might be a shot too far for their young patients or their parents."

Do you find looking away helps ease the pain of a needle injection? Are you getting flu shots for your toddlers?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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