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Winter 2021

CJCCN Volume 32, Number 4, Winter 2021

Virtual reality as an adjunctive comfort measure in the intensive care and coronary care unit: A nurse-led quality improvement project

December 20, 2021

Katherine A. Kissel, MN, RN, CNCC(C), ACCN, Andrea Soo, PhD, and Kimberley Tateson Bennett, RN

Abstract

Background:  Pain, discomfort, and anxiety in critical care units are complex, multifaceted experiences. Nurse-led implementations of adjunctive comfort measures in critical care settings are essential components in the holistic management of these experiences. Virtual reality is gaining popularity as an adjunctive comfort measure across acute care settings to promote patient comfort, though there is limited evidence examining the utility of virtual reality in critical care.

Purpose: Firstly, to determine if virtual reality, as a nurse-led adjunctive comfort measure, improved patient self-reported pain, discomfort and relaxation. Secondly, to identify if virtual reality led to significant alterations in patient physiological variables.

Methods: A quality improvement project was performed with intensive care and coronary care unit patients receiving virtual reality immersion. Pre and post-tests measured self-reported pain, relaxation, and general/overall discomfort. We examined pre and post vital signs and adverse outcomes (nausea, dizziness, eye strain/discomfort). We used paired t-tests to compare outcomes pre and post virtual reality.

Results: Post virtual reality, patient (n = 13) scores showed significant reductions in pain (mean improvement: 1.04, 95% CI [0.45, 1.62]), relaxation (mean improvement: 3.08, 95% CI [0.45, 0.62]), general/overall comfort (mean improvement: 2.08, 95% CI [0.86, 3.30]), and respiratory rate (mean reduction: 1.54, 95% CI [0.22, 2.86]). There were no significant changes in adverse events or other physiological variables.

Conclusion: Virtual reality was deemed as a safe, effective adjunctive comfort measure within one intensive care unit and coronary care unit. Virtual reality may be a useful tool to reduce pain, discomfort, and improve patient relaxation in critical care settings, though research within this specialized population is needed.

Kissel, K.A., Soo, A., & Tateson Bennett, K. (2021).  Virtual reality as an adjunctive comfort measure in the intensive care and coronary care unit: A nurse-led quality improvement project.  The Canadian Journal of Critical Care Nursing, 32(4), 5-13. DOI: 10.5737/23688653-324513

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Virtual reality as an adjunctive comfort measure in the intensive care and coronary care unit: A nurse-led quality improvement project

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