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Virtual reality better than standard of care at reducing pain, anxiety in children

12 Nov 2017
At Children’s National, Dr Julia Finkel is studying whether VR reduces pain for paediatric patients. Photo credit: Children’s National Health System

Virtual reality (VR) seems to be more effective than standard of care (SOC) in reducing pain and anxiety in children undergoing a routine blood draw, a recent randomized controlled trial (RCT) has shown.

In the trial, 143 patient triads (paediatric patient, caregiver and phlebotomist) were randomized to receive either VR (n=70; mean age 15.79±3.0 years; 47.14 percent female) or SOC (n=73; mean age 15.06±3.23 years; 52.05 percent female) for pain intervention during blood draw. Study outcomes included pre- and postprocedural measures of anxiety, pain and patient satisfaction.

Patients reported high levels of immersion in the VR game (mean score 22.75±6.32) with 92 percent of the children reporting no simulator sickness, whereas mild to moderate nausea was reported in 5.2 percent (n=4) of the participants. No other adverse events were recorded.

Phlebotomist satisfaction was also high, with 98 percent responding that they wanted to use VR in other patients as well.

According to patient reports, VR significantly reduced pain (β, -0.16; p=0.53) and anxiety (β, -0.10; p<0.01) visual analogue scale scores relative to SOC procedures. Affect, measured by the facial affective scale, was also significantly improved in the VR than in the SOC cohort (β, -0.27; p<0.001).

The same results obtained when caregiver reports were considered, with pain colour analogue scale scores being additionally significantly reduced in the VR relative to the SOC group (β, -0.26; p<0.01).

“Given the public’s excitement and enthusiasm for VR and its applications, specifically in healthcare, this article marks a critical first step in the examination of the new generation of VR technology for acute procedural pain management,” researchers said.

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Most Read Articles
Pearl Toh, Yesterday
First-line therapy with the BTK* inhibitor ibrutinib plus the anti-CD20 immunotherapy rituximab confers significant survival advantage over the current gold-standard regimen of fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab (FCR) for young, fit patients with treatment-naïve chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), according to the E1912 trial, a large cooperative group study supported by the US National Cancer Institute.
6 days ago
Low-dose administrations of haloperidol after thoracic surgery does not appear to prevent postoperative delirium, according to a new study.
4 days ago
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) displays comparable rates of mortality and serious composite outcomes but a higher rate of target-vessel revascularization at 10 years relative to coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) in patients with significant left main coronary artery (LMCA) disease, reports a study. On the other hand, CABG delivers lower mortality and serious composite outcome rates compared with PCI with drug-eluting stents after 5 years.
Pearl Toh, 6 days ago
Apixaban slashes the risk of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) by 90 percent in cancer patients compared with the low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) dalteparin, with no increase in major bleeding risk, according to the ADAM VTE study presented at ASH 2018.