Myth: Patients Are Not Willing to Give Themselves Injections
Injectable biologics target specific parts of the immune system, making them popular treatment options for psoriasis patients, with ample research on their efficacy. Performing a self-injection can be daunting for patients trying a biologic for the first time, and clinicians should be aware of the dearth of patient education material. Although patients may be fearful of self-injections, especially the first few treatments, their worries can be assuaged with proper instruction and appropriate delivery method.
Abrouk et al sought to provide an online guide and video on biologic injections to increase the success of the therapy and compliance among patients. They created a printable guide that covers the supplies needed, procedure techniques, and plans for traveling with medications. Because pain is a common concern for patients, they suggest numbing the injection area with an ice pack first. They also offer tips on dealing with injection-site reactions such as redness or bruising.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can be used to give psoriasis patients more personalized attention regarding the fear of injections. They can explain the injection procedures and describe differences between administration techniques. Some patients may prefer using an autoinjector versus a prefilled syringe, which may impact the treatment administered. Taking photographs to show progress with therapy also may motivate patients to tolerate therapy.
The National Psoriasis Foundation provides the following tips to make it easier for patients to self-inject and reduce the chance of an injection-site reaction:
- Pick an easy injection site, such as the top of the rights, abdomen, or back of the arms.
- Rotate injection sites from right to left.
- Numb the area.
- Warm the pen up by taking it out of the refrigerator 1.5 hours before it is used.
- Be patient and avoid moving the injection pen before the needle is finished administering the drug.
By giving psoriasis patients educational materials, you can empower them to control their disease with injectable biologics.
Most of my patients who use a biologic for the first time are undaunted by learning to inject themselves. I can think of just 1 of my ~300 biologic patients who has to come in every few weeks for their medicine to be injected by one of our nurses. Surprisingly, some patients (I'd estimate 5% of my biologic patients) actually prefer the syringe compared to the autoinjector, with some comments saying that the syringe is less painful and less abrupt. Needle phobia should not be a reason to not prescribe a biologic for a patient with severe psoriasis who needs it.
—Jashin J. Wu, MD (Los Angeles, California)