Background Research shows that VR is effective as a tool in managing acute pain (Hoffman & Patterson, 2000; Hoffman & Garcia-Palacios, 2001; Hoffman & Chambers, 2011). There is also evidence that meditation is beneficial in reducing persistent pain, that the effect is cumulative and builds overtime (Morone et al., 2008). We have developed a VR Guided Meditation app narrated by Sir David Attenborough and are planning a mixed method randomised controlled trial to examine whether an immersive meditation experience enables palliative patients to enter a meditative state more easily and achieve long term pain reduction.
Aim To test the feasibility and acceptability of using VR Guided Meditation in a hospice setting.
Specific Objectives • Compare two types of hardware.
• Establish whether the headsets are comfortable.
• Find out if the technique has an impact on pain.
• Ascertain feedback.
Method • Hospice patients were offered the opportunity to participate.
• The VR Gear which connects to a mobile phone was compared with an Oculus Rift which connects to a computer. Each was used for 10 min.
• Feedback via a structured questionnaire.
Results • Participants: six female, 12 male. Age range 33 to 84 years. Sixteen with cancer, two with neurological conditions.
• Preference for Oculus Rift was unanimous.
• All enjoyed the experience and wished to repeat it.
• All described the headsets as comfortable.
• None experienced side effects.
• All experienced a reduction in pain, ranging from 20% to complete reduction.
• Comments: ‘first time in months I forgot I had pain’; ‘ could have stayed there forever’; ‘wonderful’; ‘so distracted I forgot my pain’; ’in another world and didn’t feel a bit of pain.’
Conclusion VR Guided Meditation is effective in distracting patients from their pain and it is acceptable and feasible to use in a hospice setting. Research is needed to establish whether its use enables patients to enter a meditative state more effectively leading to longer term benefits.
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