Virtual Reality as a Distraction Intervention for Women Receiving Chemotherapy

Susan M. Schneider

Maryjo Prince-Paul

Mary JoAllen

Paula Silverman

Deborah Talaba

ONF 2004, 31(1), 81-88. DOI: 10.1188/04.ONF.81-88

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the use of virtual reality as a distraction intervention to relieve symptom distress in women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Design: Crossover study.

Setting: The outpatient clinic of a midwestern comprehensive cancer center.

Sample: 20 women 18-55 years of age.

Methods: Using a crossover design, 20 subjects served as their own controls. For two matched chemotherapy treatments, one pretest and two post-test measures were employed. Participants were assigned randomly to receive the virtual reality distraction intervention during one chemotherapy treatment and received no distraction intervention (control condition) during an alternate chemotherapy treatment. An open-ended questionnaire elicited each subject's evaluation of the intervention.

Main Research Variables: Symptom distress, fatigue, anxiety.

Findings: Significant decreases in symptom distress and fatigue occurred immediately following chemotherapy treatments when women used the virtual reality intervention.

Conclusions: The distraction intervention decreased symptom distress, was well received, and was easy to implement in the clinical setting.

Implications for Nursing: Nursing interventions to manage chemotherapy-related symptom distress can improve patient quality of life and increase chances for survival by reducing treatment-related symptom distress and enhancing patients' ability to adhere to treatment regimens and cope with their disease.

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