Virtual reality eases pain in hospitalized patients

  • Spiegel B & al.
  • PLoS ONE
  • 01/01/2019

  • Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Therapeutic virtual reality (VR) significantly lowered pain among hospitalized patients compared with televised programs promoting health and wellness, with the greater effect on patients with severe pain.

Why this matters

  • Studies suggest that receiving opioid therapy for just 1 day during a hospitalization raises the risk for long-term opioid use, underlining the need for pain management alternatives in hospitalized patients.

Study design

  • This prospective, randomized, comparative effectiveness study enrolled 120 hospitalized patients (VR, n=61; control, n=59) with an average pain score of ≥3/10 points.
  • Funding: The Marc and Sheri Rapaport Fund for Digital Health Sciences & Precision Health.

Key results

  • Mean differences between pre- and postintervention pain scores significantly favored the VR group (P<.04>
  • VR vs control group showed a 1.17-point incremental reduction in pain (P=.048).
  • When analysis was limited to patients with severe baseline pain (≥7 points), VR showed a pronounced effect (−3.04 vs −0.93 points; P=.02).
  • In adjusted analysis, VR was associated with incremental reductions in pain at:
    • 48 hours (0.59 points; P=.03); and
    • 72 hours (0.56 points; P=.04).
  • A significantly greater satisfaction with audiovisual experience was reported in the VR vs control group (3.5 vs 2.5; P<.001>
  • No significant treatment-related adverse events were reported.

Limitations

  • Single, short VR intervention.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm