The Effectiveness of Virtual Reality on Reducing Pain and Anxiety in Burn Injury Patients: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Objective

To systematically review the current evidence for the effectiveness of Virtual Reality (VR), in conjunction with pharmacologic analgesia on reducing pain and anxiety in burn injury patients undergoing wound dressing changes and physiotherapy management compared with pharmacologic analgesia alone or other forms of distraction.

Methods

A comprehensive search was conducted between December 2007 and January 2008, and updated in January 2009, before publication. Computerized bibliographic databases were individually searched using specifically developed search strategies to identify eligible studies.

Results

Nine studies were deemed eligible for inclusion in this review. Wound dressing changes was the most common procedure during which VR was trialed. Pain was the primary outcome measure in all of the studies included. Anxiety was a secondary outcome measure in 3 of the 9 included studies. VR, in conjunction with pharmacologic analgesics, significantly reduced pain experienced by burn injury patients during wound dressing changes and physiotherapy. There is equivocal evidence for the effect of VR in conjunction with pharmacologic analgesics on reducing anxiety in burn injury patients during wound dressing changes and physiotherapy.

Discussion

This is the first known systematic review to report on the effectiveness of VR, in conjunction with pharmacologic analgesia on reducing pain and anxiety in burn injury patients undergoing wound dressing changes and physiotherapy management compared with pharmacologic analgesia alone or other forms of distraction. Used as an adjunct to the current burn pain management regimens, VR could possibly assist health professionals in making the rehabilitation process for burn patients less excruciating, thereby improving functional outcomes. Further research investigating the effect of VR on anxiety in burn injury patients is warranted.

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