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Virtual Reality as a Pediatric Drug

July 3, 2019

Written by Clay Smith

Spoon Feed
Virtual reality reduced pain and anxiety in children undergoing procedures compared with usual care.

Why does this matter?
We recently covered a RCT on VR for pediatric IV and venipuncture distraction that looked very effective. But is this the consensus across studies?

VR as a drug
This was a systematic review of 17 RCTs on the use of VR for pediatric procedural distraction. The most experience was with burn care (6 studies), but it was also used for venous access, dental, or oncologic care. The effect size to reduce pain was large, with a mean reduction of 1.3 on a pain scale (usually a visual analog pain scale). VR was also effective in reducing anxiety, with a mean reduction of 1.3 as well. Both were statistically significant and remained so even after the study with the largest effect or the lower quality studies were removed upon sensitivity analysis. Looks like VR really helps with pain and anxiety related to pediatric procedures.

Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Virtual Reality in Pediatrics: Effects on Pain and Anxiety. Anesth Analg. 2019 May 23. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000004165. [Epub ahead of print]

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What are your thoughts?