Objective: To report the first randomized controlled trial to investigate if immersive virtual reality (VR) treatment can reduce patient perceptions of anxiety compared with a tablet-based control treatment in adults undergoing a first-time sternotomy. Methods: Twenty first-time sternotomy patients were prospectively randomized (blinded to investigator) to a control or VR intervention. The VR intervention was a game module “Bear Blast” (AppliedVR) displayed using a Samsung Gear Oculus VR headset. The control intervention was a tablet-based game with comparable audio, visual, and tactile components. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was administered before and after the assigned intervention. Self-reported anxiety measures between the control and VR groups were evaluated using an unpaired t test. Changes in self-reported anxiety measures pre- and post-intervention were evaluated with a paired t test for both the control and VR groups. The study took place from May 1, 2017, through January 1, 2019 (Institutional Review Board 16-009784). Results: Both control and VR groups were 90.0% male, with a mean ± SD age of 63.4 ± 9.11 and 69.5 ± 6.9 years, respectively. VR users experienced significant reductions in feeling tense and strained, and significant improvements in feeling calm when compared with tablet controls (P<0.05). They also experienced significant reductions in feeling strained, upset, and tense when compared with their own self-reported anxiety measure pre- and post-intervention (P<0.05). Critically, control patients had no change in these categories. Conclusion: Immersive VR is an effective, nonpharmacologic approach to reducing preoperative anxiety in adults undergoing cardiac surgery and shows the validity and utility of this technology in adult patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Medicine