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Effects of Distraction Using Virtual Reality Glasses During Lumbar Punctures in Adolescents With Cancer

Suzanne Sander Wint
Debra Eshelman
Jill Steele
Cathie E. Guzzetta
ONF 2002, 29(1), E8-E15 DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.E8-E15

Purpose/Objectives: To determine the effects of virtual reality (VR) glasses on adolescents with cancer undergoing lumbar punctures (LPs).

Design: Pilot study using an experimental, control group design.

Setting: In-hospital oncology clinic.

Sample: 30 adolescents with cancer (17 in the VR and 13 in the control group) undergoing frequent LPs.

Methods: Subjects were randomly assigned to groups. Both groups received standard intervention during the LP, but the experimental group also wore VR glasses and watched a video. Following the LP, both groups rated their pain using a visual analog scale (VAS) and were interviewed to evaluate their experience. Main Research Variables: Pain, subjective evaluation of experience.

Findings: Although VAS pain scores were not statistically different between the two groups (p = 0.77), VAS scores tended to be lower in the VR group (median VAS of 7.0, range 0-48) than in the control group (median VAS of 9.0, range 0-59). 77% of subjects in the experimental group said the VR glasses helped to distract them from the LP.

Conclusions: VR glasses are a feasible, age-appropriate, nonpharmacologic adjunct to conventional care in managing the pain associated with LPs in adolescents. Implications for Practice: The clinical application of various age-appropriate distracters to reduce pain in adolescents undergoing painful procedures should be explored.