Virtual reality education reduces the stress of chest radiography

February 3, 2020

Children who received virtual reality (VR) education before undergoing chest radiography showed lower levels of stress during the procedure than their peers who did not receive the VR exposure, a randomized trial in 99 children found.

Children who received virtual reality (VR) education before undergoing chest radiography showed lower levels of stress during the procedure than their peers who did not receive the VR exposure, a randomized trial in 99 children found.

Participants were divided into a VR group and a control group. Those in the VR group experienced a 360°, 3-dimensional environment featuring a 3-minute video that explained the procedure, took them into a radiography room, showed them how to position themselves in front of a radiography machine, and encouraged taking a deep breath and being cooperative. The control group was given the usual simple verbal instructions for chest radiography.

During the chest radiography, investigators measured children’s stress and anxiety using a scale that assessed behaviors such as crying, clinging, fear, restraint, and screaming. A score of >5 was considered “more distressed” and <5 considered “less distressed.” The number of less-distressed children was significantly higher in the VR group than in the control group (38 vs 26, respectively), and the degree of stress and anxiety in the VR group also was significantly lower. Whereas only 16.3% of the VR group needed parental presence, 36% of the control group expressed this need. Virtual reality education also was associated with improved parental satisfaction and reduced procedural time (Han SH, et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2019:173[11]:1026-1031).

Thoughts from Dr Farber

I chose this study to show that I do not consider all electronics to be bad for children, when used properly. This clever creation is the sort of brief, targeted intervention that can take advantage of the undoubted attraction video has for children.

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