February 19, 2019

Virtual reality distracts children during venepuncture

US researchers have developed a hands-free virtual reality environment that could help to avoid the development of needle phobia in children with haemophilia (JMIR Serious Games. 2019 Jan 9;7(1):e10902. doi: 10.2196/10902). It was no more effective than a standard technique but probably more fun.

They created a wireless virtual reality platform using a disposable adjustable headset to provide a suite of remotely orchestrated games. Hands-free navigation was essential to allow a haemophilia nurse access to the child’s arms to carry out the procedures.

Children aged 6-18 years underwent a timed IV procedure with distraction provided by either the virtual reality device or whatever was the practice standard.  The nurse and a caregiver rated each option for usability, engagement, impact on procedural anxiety and procedural pain, and likability of the distraction technique. They and the children also rated how much they would like to use virtual reality in the future.

Results were available for 24 children. The two techniques produced similar results: the median procedure time was the same (9 – 10 minutes) and children said both distraction techniques were effective and had a positive effect on procedural anxiety and pain. Eighty per cent of evaluations by children, caregivers and nurses favoured using virtual reality for future procedures. There were no safety concerns.