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Use of Virtual Reality to Distract From Pain and Anxiety

Catherine Glennon
Susan F. McElroy
Lynne M. Connelly
Lisa Mische Lawson
Abigail M. Bretches
Allyson R. Gard
Lexsie R. Newcomer
ONF 2018, 45(4), 545-552 DOI: 10.1188/18.ONF.545-552

Objectives: To determine the effects of a virtual reality intervention on pain and anxiety in patients undergoing a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy procedure.

Sample & Setting: 97 adults in an outpatient cancer center in the midwestern United States.

Methods & Variables: In this quasiexperimental study, participants were assigned to either the experimental group (use of virtual reality goggles) or the control group (standard treatment). Vital signs, pain, and anxiety were measured before and after the procedure. T tests and chi-square tests were used to compare the two groups based on demographic data, pain, anxiety, and total amount of medication used during the procedure.

Results: Participants who wore virtual reality goggles during a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy procedure did not experience a statistically significant decrease in pain and anxiety. However, the experimental and control groups showed a decrease in pain and anxiety levels from pre- to postprocedure.

Implications for Nursing: Virtual reality goggles may be a feasible, noninvasive alternative to traditional pharmacologic treatment. The cost of any intervention would need to be considered. Virtual reality should be researched and adapted to benefit patients in appropriate settings.

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