Virtual Reality Pain Distraction During Gynecological Surgery—A Report of 44 Cases Pages 12-16

José Luis Mosso Vázquez1, Verónica Lara Vaca2, Brenda K. Wiederhold3,4, Ian T. Miller5 and Mark D. Wiederhold3

1School of Medicine, Universidad Panamericana, Campus Mexico City, Mexico; 2Hospital de Ginecología y Obstetricia Número 4, Dr. Luis Castelazo Ayala del IMSS, Mexico City, Mexico; 3The Virtual Reality Medical Center, USA; 4The Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Belgium; 5Interactive Media Institute, USA


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Abstract: Women face insufficient access to behavioral healthcare. Compounded with stigmatized perceptions of behavioral healthcare, many women are left to receive these services from their obstetrician-gynecologist. In addition, feminine-specific procedures serve as a source of stress and anxiety, ultimately causing increased intraoperative and postoperative pain. Researchers and clinicians, then, are left to find innovative solutions to these obstacles.
Methods: The present study compares the use of VR distraction during gynecological procedures in 44 women. Using clinically validated relaxation worlds the researchers compared physiological responses and subjective reports of pain in 21 women using VR to 23 women in a non-VR group while undergoing gynecological procedures.
Results: Analysis of measurements taken before, during, and after the procedures revealed significantly lower reports of pain in women receiving VR distraction compared to the non-VR group. Physiological measurements also indicate statistically significant differences in autonomic markers of pain such as heart rate and respiration rate. Medium to large effect sizes are reported.
Conclusion: Decreased pain perception in the VR group can be attributed to immersion in the virtual world as reflected in higher heart rates and respiration rates compared to the non-VR group. These findings help alleviate preoccupations with feminine-specific procedure and thereby increase the likelihood of women actively seeking necessary exams. VR is an effective tool clinicians can use to deliver behavioral healthcare in a variety of settings.

Keywords: Virtual reality, pain distraction, obstetrician-gynecologist, behavioral healthcare.
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