The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using virtual reality (VR) for distraction during intravenous (IV) insertion in the pediatric emergency department (ED) and of conducting a full-scale randomized controlled trial.
Materials and Methods:
Children aged 8 to 17 years old attending a tertiary care pediatric ED were randomized to interactive VR or an attention control (video on a tablet) for distraction during their IV insertion. Feasibility was determined by recruitment rates, acceptability of the intervention, response rates to outcome measures, and safety or technical problems. Satisfaction questionnaires and pain, fear, and distress scores were completed by the child, caregiver, nurse, and research assistant. Immersion in the intervention was rated by the child. Heart rate was measured.
Children were recruited between February 2018 and May 2019. A total of 116 children were screened and 72.3% of eligible children were enrolled. Overall, 60 children were randomized to either VR (n=32) or attention control (n=28). Children, caregivers, and nurses were highly satisfied with both distraction methods. There were no significant safety, technical, or equipment issues. There was minimal disruption to clinical workflow in both groups due to study protocols. There was a clinically significant reduction in pain in the VR group. There was no significant difference in fear or distress. Children reported higher immersion in the VR environment. Heart rate increase from baseline was higher in the VR group.
Our data support the feasibility of using VR for distraction during IV insertion and of conducting a full-scale randomized controlled trial. Identifying eligible patients and minimizing the number of outcome measures will be important considerations for future research.