VR shows promise in reducing stress, anxiety among health care providers

April 26, 2022

1 min read

Source / Disclosures

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures. Pillay is employed by Reulay.

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Use of a virtual reality device shows promise in alleviating stress and anxiety in health care providers during high-stress intervals such as a pandemic, according to a study published in the Journal of Primary Care & Community Health.

“While some anxiety may improve job performance by motivating people, many studies now document the detrimental impact of anxiety on job performance,” Ivana T. Croghe, of the Mayo Clinic, and colleagues wrote. “Impostor syndrome, burnout and decreased satisfaction with work are just some of the negative impacts of anxiety.”

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Croghan and colleagues sought to assess the safety and proper use of a nature-based virtual reality experience provided to health care workers during the current pandemic.

The study included 24 front-line health care providers (58.3% male, 66.7% white, average age 46.3 years) who were asked to watch two nature-based scenes (“Walk in the woods” and “Forest of focus”) through both a 3D virtual reality device and a computer screen with 4K graphics. The participants’ viewing experience was randomized during in-person consent, baseline and end-of-study intervals. Primary outcomes for the experience were safety and tolerability and alteration in intensity for feelings of anxiety, resilience, emotional distress, cognitive function and self-efficacy.

Results showed that 96% of participants would go through the study again and recommend it to fellow professionals, and 23 of the 24 reported feeing relaxed after viewing the scenes. Those who saw the VR wooded scene recorded the greatest reduction in anxiety, followed by the VR forest scene, then the forest scene on the computer and, lastly, the computer-based woods scene. Data additionally showed participants recorded a significant decrease in symptom-based scores from pre- to post-study in all four sessions; however, there was no significant difference recorded between each of the four groups from pre- to post-study.

“We are very encouraged by this preliminary data,” Srini PillayMD, chief medical officer of Reulay, the manufacturer of the VR device, said in a company press release. “This lays the groundwork for us to show that the Reulay platform can impact the quality and quantity of lived years.”


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