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Ann Behav Med. 2012 Apr;43(2):173-80. doi: 10.1007/s12160-011-9315-8.

Applied tension and coping with blood donation: a randomized trial.

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  • 1Psychology Department, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.



Despite the ongoing need for blood donation, few people give blood. A common reason is concern about vasovagal symptoms.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of applied tension in reducing vasovagal symptoms during blood donation and the mechanisms of action.


Two hundred eighty-two young adult blood donors were randomly assigned to conditions involving applied tension during the pre-donation wait period, during the blood draw, both, or no applied tension at all.


Applied tension was effective in reducing vasovagal symptoms in blood donors, particularly when practiced during the pre-donation wait period (p < 0.001). People who practiced applied tension during the pre-donation wait period required less treatment for vasovagal reactions than people who did not (8% vs. 16%).


The results of this study suggest that the effects of applied tension on vasovagal symptoms are not mediated entirely by exercise-related changes in blood pressure and heart rate. Rather, it may reduce anxiety or physiological consequences of anxiety. Applied tension is a useful treatment which can help people cope during blood donation and other invasive medical interventions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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