The effects of blood-draw and injection stimuli on the vasovagal response

Philippe T. Gilchrist*, Blaine Ditto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Vasovagal reactions (VVR) are common, complicating and deterring people from various medical procedures. A recent perspective (R. R. Diehl, ) suggests that VVR developed from the adaptive process of hemorrhagic fainting, perhaps as a means of preparing for anticipated blood loss. The primary goal of this study was to compare vasovagal symptoms during intravenous-injection and blood-draw videos. Sixty-two young adults watched the videos. Vasovagal symptoms were assessed with self-report, blood pressure, and heart rate variability. As predicted, participants reported more vasovagal symptoms and anxiety following the blood-draw video. Sympathetic nervous system activity (low- to high-frequency ratio) decreased during both videos but significantly more during the blood-draw video, although this could be reversed by the Applied Tension technique. Results are discussed in terms of the relevance of specific stimuli and emotions in VVR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-820
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • behavioral medicine
  • emotion
  • normal volunteers
  • heart rate
  • blood pressure


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