BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Pain management in children often is inadequate, and the single most common painful procedure in children who are hospitalized is needle procedures. Virtual reality (VR) is a promising and engaging intervention that may help to decrease anxiety and pain in children undergoing painful procedures. Our aim for this study is to investigate patient satisfaction and pain reduction by using a three-dimensional VR interactive game as a distraction.
METHODS: In this randomized clinical trial, we enrolled 64 children aged 7 to 16 years who were scheduled for venous cannulation. Patients assigned to the control group were adherent to our standard of care, including topical numbing cream, positioning, and distraction by a specialized pain nurse. In the study group, children were adherent to the standard of care and were distracted by an interactive VR game. Primary outcomes were patient satisfaction and the procedural pain assessed by using a visual analog score; secondary outcomes were the procedural time and any adverse events.
RESULTS: We found a high level of patient satisfaction with using the VR custom-made three-dimensional interactive game. All children (28 of 28 [100%]) in the VR group answered that they would prefer VR as a distraction for a later procedure, a borderline significant result compared with that of the control group (26 of 31 [84.9%]). No significant difference was found in pain scores and procedural times between the 2 groups. The number of adverse effects was low, with no significant difference between the 2 groups.
CONCLUSIONS: We found no difference in pain scores but higher satisfaction when using VR versus standard care as part of a multimodal approach for management of procedural pain in children.