Effects of distraction using virtual reality glasses during lumbar punctures in adolescents with cancer

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2002 Jan-Feb;29(1):E8-E15. doi: 10.1188/02.ONF.E8-E15.


Purpose/objectives: To determine the effects of virtual reality (VR) glasses on adolescents with cancer undergoing lumbar punctures (LPs).

Design: Pilot study using an experimental, control group design.

Setting: In-hospital oncology clinic.

Sample: 30 adolescents with cancer (17 in the VR and 13 in the control group) undergoing frequent LPs.

Methods: Subjects were randomly assigned to groups. Both groups received standard intervention during the LP, but the experimental group also wore VR glasses and watched a video. Following the LP, both groups rated their pain using a visual analog scale (VAS) and were interviewed to evaluate their experience.

Main research variables: Pain, subjective evaluation of experience.

Findings: Although VAS pain scores were not statistically different between the two groups (p = 0.77), VAS scores tended to be lower in the VR group (median VAS of 7.0, range 0-48) than in the control group (median VAS of 9.0, range 0-59). 77% of subjects in the experimental group said the VR glasses helped to distract them from the LP.

Conclusions: VR glasses are a feasible, age-appropriate, nonpharmacologic adjunct to conventional care in managing the pain associated with LPs in adolescents.

Implications for practice: The clinical application of various age-appropriate distracters to reduce pain in adolescents undergoing painful procedures should be explored.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music Therapy / instrumentation
  • Music Therapy / standards*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / nursing
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Relaxation Therapy / instrumentation
  • Relaxation Therapy / standards*
  • Spinal Puncture / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Videotape Recording / instrumentation
  • Videotape Recording / standards*