Effectiveness of fully immersive virtual reality as a pain and distress treatment method as compared to standard analgesic treatments in children undergoing painful medical procedures: a systematic review. (2019)
Type of ContentElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree NameMaster of Science
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsCollins, Evgeniashow all
Effective pain and distress management remains a challenge for the paediatric population during medical procedures. Virtual Reality (VR) provides pain control by immersing an individual in a multisensory, 3-dimensional, computer-generated environment, offering a non-pharmacological way of pain reduction during invasive medical procedures. This research assessed the effect of VR distraction as a pain control method compared to standard pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods. A systematic review of the literature used PsycINFO, PubMed, and Google Scholar databases. Search terms included a randomised controlled trial (RCT), virtual reality/VR, augmented reality, child, paediatric, children, painful medical procedures, pain, and pain management. Studies were included in the systematic review if they used an RCT design, and the VR method of distraction was compared to a standard method of pain relief or no pain control at all. Participants aged 3 to 21 years old were undergoing painful medical procedures in hospital settings with standard care as pain management in the control groups and VR distraction in the experimental groups. Out of 123 records initially screened, nine papers were selected for the systematic review. They were assessed using the PEDro scale. The data collection was performed by the primary researcher, using Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Software Version 2 (CMA 2.0). VR demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in anxiety and pain in the experimental groups vs. control groups, with a large effect size (Hedges’ g = 1.30, SE = 0.38).
A number of limitations included: VR is not applicable in children with severe head and hand burns or injuries. Motion sickness or nausea is a possible side effect of VR and can limit its clinical application. More research is needed to investigate the optimal dosage and sustainable efficacy of VR. Overall, VR distraction was effective compared to standard pain control methods and can be used during painful medical procedures to alleviate pain and anxiety in paediatric population.