Virtual reality in pain distraction

In pediatrics, the pain distraction techniques that are often used during medical procedures are music and movies. Virtual reality (VR) is a recent technique that has been shown to be more effective with respect to traditional methods of distracting pain.

The reason for this success is the possibility of creating a complete immersion in the virtual environment. Reduction of pain is directly proportional to environments’ level of immersion, because less attention is available for pain perception.

A meta-analysis conducted by Robin Eijlers et al. (2019), highlighted the efficacy of VR in the reduction of pain and anxiety as reported by the patient himself, as well as perceived by family members. Virtual reality was applied mainly during burn care.

The intervention of VR in the distraction of pediatric pain was significantly more effective than care as usual and had a strong impact, especially in the case of younger children.

VR creates an illusion of presence more convincing than audiovisual glasses and 360° videos, is easy to use, and is an effective tool in clinical practice.

Further studies are necessary to verify the effectiveness of VR during the preparation of medical procedures for the reduction of pain and anxiety. This issue is significant since anticipatory anxiety leads to greater pain during medical procedures.


Robin Eijlers, Elisabeth M.W.J. Utens, Lonneke M. Staals, Pieter F.A. de Nijs, Johan M. Berghmans, René M.H. Wijnen, Manon H:J: Hillegers, Bram Dierckx, Jeroen S. Legerstee, (2019). Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Virtual Reality in Pediatrics: Effects on Pain and Anxiety. Volume 129. Number 5.

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