THURSDAY, Sept. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Virtual reality can decrease pain and anxiety in children undergoing intravenous catheter placement, according to a study published online Aug. 25 in JAMA Network Open.

Jeffrey I. Gold, Ph.D., from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues assessed whether a virtual reality intervention decreases pain and anxiety among pediatric patients undergoing peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC) placement versus usual care (simple distraction techniques). The analysis included 107 patients (aged 10 to 21 years) who were undergoing PIVC placement in either a radiology department or an infusion center.

The researchers found that patients who received the virtual reality intervention had significantly lower mean patient-reported post-PIVC anxiety scores and clinician-reported scores compared with children receiving standard care. Similar results were seen for patient-reported, caregiver-reported, and clinician-reported mean post-PIVC pain scores compared with standard care.

“We started this as a way to mitigate pain and overall distress in children. But caregivers and health care providers are also reporting improved outcomes. Effectively treating the patient clearly has a ripple effect,” Gold said in a statement. “We care about the health care experience that children have. By reducing fear associated with routine procedures, we prepare the child to begin treatment with a more positive outlook, and this can affect their health for a lifetime.”

Gold disclosed ties to AppliedVR, which donated hardware and software for the study.

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