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P-35 Can virtual reality (vr) guided meditation reduce pain? a feasibility and acceptability study
  1. Sheila Popert,
  2. Harmeet Riat and
  3. Emma Hodges
  1. St Giles Hospice, Lichfield, UK


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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