This article was last reviewed on
This article waslast modified on 17 February 2019.

Nobody particularly enjoys having blood collected or providing a urine or stool sample, but a medical test conducted on a small sample collected from your body can give your doctor information that can improve the quality of your life or even save it. If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, read this article for some general tips on how to make the sample collection experience more positive and less stressful. Related articles address Tips on Blood Testing, Tips for Children, and Tips to Help the Elderly.

In addition, the article Collecting Samples for Testing provides an overview of the variety of body samples that may be used for testing beyond the more common blood and urine samples, such as tissue, cerebrospinal fluid, and sputum.

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About Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety
  • Be Prepared

    Know What to Expect

    Your doctor may use medical tests to help ensure accurate and timely diagnosis of conditions that could seriously affect your health. Tests also help your doctor monitor your treatment.

    Sometimes, undergoing an unfamiliar medical procedure can turn out to be a tense, upsetting, or even frightening experience. With a little preparation, however, you can help ensure that your test is as quick, painless, and accurate as possible. Emotional distress is more likely when your experience with a medical procedure does not match your expectations. Knowing what will happen is a good way to reduce this.

    Understanding why a medical test has been performed can improve your attitude and preparation for the test. Being well prepared also helps you feel more relaxed and in control of the situation. Ask your doctor to explain the reasons for your test and how the test will be conducted.


  • Know your tests

    Understanding Your Tests

    When your doctor wants to arrange for a particular test to be done, you should find out why the test needs to be done, how it will be done, and what the doctor expects to learn from it. Here are some good questions you might want to ask:

    • Why does this test need to be done? How could it change the course of my care?
    • What do you (the patient or carer) need to know or do before the test?
    • What happens during and after the test?
    • How much will the test hurt or be an inconvenience? What are its risks?
    • How long will the test take? When will results be available?
    • Where do you need to go to take the test? Is there a "good" time to have the test?
    • What are normal results? What do abnormal results mean?
    • What factors may affect the results?
    • What course of action may be next, after the test?

    Your doctor or nurse is the best person to answer these questions. No matter how brief the answers may be, asking your doctor or practice nurse is likely to provide you with the answer most specific to your situation. After you hear from them, you can get more details from this website.

  • Relaxation Techniques

    Relaxation Techniques

    Knowing a few simple relaxation and focusing techniques can help you avoid tensing your muscles or becoming faint during any difficult medical procedure. Although the medical staff performing these procedures are usually good at making small talk and creating distractions that take your mind off your discomfort, you can also soothe yourself or an anxious patient with the following techniques. If you are anxious about medical tests and need them frequently, you will find it helpful to practice these skills at home to make them even more effective when you need them.

    Breathe — Take three slow breaths, counting to three for each one and breathing through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth, counting to six. Push your stomach out as you breathe in (to breathe more deeply). Slow down if you start to feel lightheaded.

    Relax Your Muscles — Consciously relax your muscles. Let them feel loose.

    Focus — Find a focal point to look at or think of a pleasing image.

    Count — Count slowly and silently to ten.

    Talk — Chat with someone in the room. The distraction can relax you.


  • Not So Bad?

    That Wasn't So Bad Now, Was It?

    Many of the tests your doctor arranges for you today are less intrusive and more comfortable than in the past. A variety of specimen collection equipment has been designed with patient comfort in mind.

    Understanding what will happen, communicating your needs to the health care professionals assisting you, employing simple relaxation techniques, and knowing how to take care of any minor physical pains will help the apprehensive individual be most comfortable and prepared for a medical test. Now, the next time your doctor requests some "routine tests," you can take comfort in knowing the routine.