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JMIR Ment Health. 2017 Mar 29;4(1):e9. doi: 10.2196/mental.7387.

Virtual Reality for Management of Pain in Hospitalized Patients: Results of a Controlled Trial.

Author information

1
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Health Services Research, Los Angeles,CA, CA, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Improvements in software and design and reduction in cost have made virtual reality (VR) a practical tool for immersive, three-dimensional (3D), multisensory experiences that distract patients from painful stimuli.

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of the study was to measure the impact of a onetime 3D VR intervention versus a two-dimensional (2D) distraction video for pain in hospitalized patients.

METHODS:

We conducted a comparative cohort study in a large, urban teaching hospital in medical inpatients with an average pain score of ≥3/10 from any cause. Patients with nausea, vomiting, dementia, motion sickness, stroke, seizure, and epilepsy and those placed in isolation were excluded. Patients in the intervention cohort viewed a 3D VR experience designed to reduce pain using the Samsung Gear Oculus VR headset; control patients viewed a high-definition, 2D nature video on a 14-inch bedside screen. Pre- and postintervention pain scores were recorded. Difference-in-difference scores and the proportion achieving a half standard deviation pain response were compared between groups.

RESULTS:

There were 50 subjects per cohort (N=100). The mean pain reduction in the VR cohort was greater than in controls (-1.3 vs -0.6 points, respectively; P=.008). A total of 35 (65%) patients in the VR cohort achieved a pain response versus 40% of controls (P=.01; number needed to treat=4). No adverse events were reported from VR.

CONCLUSIONS:

Use of VR in hospitalized patients significantly reduces pain versus a control distraction condition. These results indicate that VR is an effective and safe adjunctive therapy for pain management in the acute inpatient setting; future randomized trials should confirm benefit with different visualizations and exposure periods.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02456987; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02456987 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6pJ1P644S).

KEYWORDS:

hospitalization; inpatients; pain; virtual reality

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