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Virtual Reality Analgesia in Labor: The VRAIL Pilot Study—A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial Suggesting Benefit of Immersive Virtual Reality Analgesia in Unmedicated Laboring Women

Frey, David P. DO*; Bauer, Melissa E. DO*; Bell, Carrie L. MD; Low, Lisa Kane PhD, CNM; Hassett, Afton L. PsyD*; Cassidy, Ruth B. MA*; Boyer, Katherine D. BS*; Sharar, Sam R. MD§

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000003649
Obstetric Anesthesiology

This pilot study investigated the use of virtual reality (VR) in laboring women. Twenty-seven women were observed for equivalent time during unmedicated contractions in the first stage of labor both with and without VR (order balanced and randomized). Numeric rating scale scores were collected after both study conditions. Significant decreases in sensory pain −1.5 (95% CI, −0.8 to −2.2), affective pain −2.5 (95% CI, −1.6 to −3.3), cognitive pain −3.1 (95% CI, −2.4 to −3.8), and anxiety −1.5 (95% CI, −0.8 to −2.3) were observed during VR. Results suggest that VR is a potentially effective technique for improving pain and anxiety during labor.

From the Departments of *Anesthesiology

Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan

School of Nursing, Women’s Studies, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

§Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Washington.

Published ahead of print 6 June 2018.

D. P. Frey is currently affiliated with the Oregon Anesthesiology Group, Obstetric Anesthesiology, Providence Portland Medical Center, Portland, Oregon.

Accepted for publication June 6, 2018.

Funding: Funding for this study was provided by the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan as well as in part by the National Institutes of Health (AR054115 and GM042725).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s website.

Clinical trial: NCT02926469 at

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to David P. Frey, DO, Oregon Anesthesiology Group, Obstetric Anesthesiology, Providence Portland Medical Center, 707 SW Washington St, Suite 700, Portland, OR 97205. Address e-mail to

Copyright © 2018 International Anesthesia Research Society
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