The VRIMM study: Virtual Reality for IMMunisation pain in young children-protocol for a randomised controlled trial

BMJ Open. 2020 Aug 20;10(8):e038354. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038354.


Introduction: Pain caused by routine immunisations is distressing to children, their parents and those administering injections. If poorly managed, it can lead to anxiety about future medical procedures, needle phobia and avoidance of future vaccinations and other medical treatment. Several strategies, such as distraction, are used to manage the distress associated with routine immunisations. Virtual reality (VR), a technology which transports users into an immersive 'virtual world', has been used to manage pain and distress in various settings such as burns dressing changes and dental treatments. In this study, we aim to compare the effectiveness of VR to standard care in a general practice setting as a distraction technique to reduce pain and distress in 4-year-old children receiving routine immunisations.

Methods and analysis: The study is a randomised controlled clinical trial comparing VR with standard care in 100 children receiving routine 4-year-old vaccination. Children attending a single general practice in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia will be allocated using blocked randomisation to either VR or standard care. Children in the intervention group will receive VR intervention prior to vaccination in addition to standard care; the control group will receive standard care. The primary outcome is the difference in the child's self-rated pain scores between the VR intervention and control groups measured using The Faces Pain Scale-Revised. Secondary outcomes include another measure of self-rated pain (the Poker Chip Tool), parent/guardian and healthcare provider ratings of pain (standard 100 mm visual analogue scales) and adverse effects.

Ethics and dissemination: Ethics approval has been obtained in Australia from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners National Research and Evaluation Ethics Committee (NREEC 18-010). Recruitment commenced in July 2019. We plan to submit study findings for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and presentation at relevant conferences.

Trial registration number: ACTRN12618001363279.

Keywords: paediatric infectious disease & immunisation; pain management; primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12618001363279