Mobile virtual reality distraction reduces needle pain and stress in children?



Virtual reality (VR) technology is a remarkably effective method for distracting attention from painful stimuli. This is particularly important for children who undergo painful and stressful medical treatments. The main aim of the present study was to examine whether the type of VR distraction had an effect on reducing pain and stress in children during a short blood sampling treatment, and to investigate the effectiveness of mobile VR.

Fifty-seven patients of a pediatric nephrology clinic (Mage = 12, range: 7–17) participated in a between-group experimental design study. Participants in the treatment group (active vs passive VR) underwent a venipuncture procedure with VR distraction. Mobile VR (Samsung gear) was used in this study. Participants in the active VR experimental condition played a game based on the multiple object tracking task paradigm. In the passive VR experimental condition, participants watched a film similar to the presented game. All participants rated their pain and stress levels on the Visual Analogue Scale and completed a short questionnaire.

Both VR groups reported significantly lower pain and stress intensity than the control group. When comparing the two experimental groups, no statistically significant differences were found, although participants differed in their level of perceived pain and stress, with greater benefits in the active VR. The present study focused on comparing the effect sizes of active and passive VR interventions. Additionally, the study confirmed feasibility of using Multiple Object Tracking paradigm as a method of attention distraction in VR.

Children; pain; acute care; virtual reality; analgesia
Author biographies

Joanna Ewa Piskorz

University of Wroclaw

Institute of Psychology, University of Wroclaw, Ph. D.

ul. Dawida 1, 50-527 WROCŁAW,
TEL. +48 71 367 20 01 w. 126 , FAX. +48 71 367 18 14,

Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Wroclaw. Since 2000 is researching VR use in psychology. Since 2012 works in “VR4Health” project, studying VR use in pain alleviation, both in experimental pain paradigms, and clinical settings.

Marcin Czub

University of Wroclaw

Institute of Psychology, University of Wroclaw, Ph. D.

ul. Dawida 1, 50-527 WROCŁAW,
TEL. +48 71 367 20 01 w. 126 , FAX. +48 71 367 18 14,

Assistant professor at the Institute of Psychology, University of Wrocław, Poland. Lead researcher in “VR4Health” – a research project on Virtual Reality and pain perception. His research and teaching are focused on body perception, cognitive psychology, pain perception, and virtual reality. Laureate of Foundation for Polish Science prize for educational project “Being an avatar – Virtual Reality and the psychology of body perception”

Beata Šulžickaja

University of Wroclaw

Institute of Psychology, University of Wroclaw

ul. Dawida 1, 50-527 WROCŁAW,
TEL. +48 71 367 20 01 w. 126 , FAX. +48 71 367 18 14,

Holder of a master’s degree in psychology, graduated in 2015. Deeply interested in neuroscience and the therapeutic potential of Virtual Reality in reducing pain, stimulating intellectual capacity and improving mental health. In collaboration with VR4Health and the University of Wrocław since 2017.

Katarzyna Kiliś-Pstrusińska

Wroclaw Medical University

Prof. Katarzyna Kilis-Pstrusinska, MD, PhD,
Dept. of Paediatric Nephrology, Wroclaw Medical University,
ul. Borowska 213, 50-556 Wroclaw, Poland
tel. +48 717364400; fax: +48 717364409

Professor of Medicine, MD, PhD, psychologist, Wroclaw Medical University.

Interested in health related quality of life in children with chronic kidney diseases,

collaborating with several centers of pediatric nephrology and pediatrics.


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