Blood-injury phobia with and without a history of fainting: disgust sensitivity does not explain the fainting response.Psychosom Med. 2006 Mar-Apr; 68(2):331-9.PM
Individuals diagnosed with blood-injury phobia respond to venipuncture with strong psychophysiological responses. We investigated whether disgust sensitivity contributes to the fainting response and is associated with parasympathetic activation, as suggested by previous research.
Twenty individuals diagnosed with blood-injury phobia (9 with a history of fainting to the sight of blood, 11 without such a fainting history) and 20 healthy controls were compared. Psychophysiological responses and self-report measures of anxiety, disgust, and embarrassment were monitored during rest, a paced breathing task, and venipuncture. In addition, trait disgust sensitivity and blood-injury fears were assessed.
Blood-injury phobics reported enhanced anxiety, disgust, and embarrassment during venipuncture. They also experienced heightened arousal, as indicated by heart rate, respiration rate, and minute ventilation. Blood-injury phobics without a fainting history tended toward higher anxiety and disgust scores. There was no evidence for increased parasympathetic activation in either blood-injury phobic subgroup or of an association of disgust and parasympathetic activation.
The tendency to faint when exposed to blood-injury stimuli may suffice as a conditioning event leading into phobia, without specific involvement of disgust sensitivity and parasympathetic activation.