Effects of virtual reality v. biophilic environments on pain and distress in oncology patients: a case-crossover pilot study

L. Ashley Verzwyvelt, Ann McNamara, Xiaohui Xu, Renee Stubbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This pilot study aimed to determine if a biophilic Green Therapy or Virtual Reality environment can decrease an oncology patient’s pain and distress while receiving chemotherapy. A case-crossover pilot study was conducted in a comprehensive cancer infusion center. 33 participants with breast, gynecologic, gastrointestinal, pancreatic and prostate cancers were all included in three rooms in a random order at different cycles: control room, Green Therapy room, and Virtual Reality room to receive chemotherapy, respectively. Participants’ pain, distress, heart rate, blood pressure, and saliva cortisol were measured before and after infusion in each room. No statistical significance differences were shown in the changes of heart rate, systolic, or diastolic blood pressure, saliva cortisol, pain, or distress before and after infusion between the control, Green Therapy, and Virtual Reality rooms. However, more patients reported the experience as “fun” and “enjoyable” when they were in Green Therapy or Virtual reality room as compared to in the control room. Additionally, since participating in the study, 14 patients reported spending at least 30 min or more outside in nature. In this study, we found that patients’ heart rate, blood pressure, and self-reported distress levels were reduced after each biophilic intervention although results are not statistically significant. The study also suggested that biophilic interventions are safe and feasible and may complement the standard of care for oncology patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20196
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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