The Effect of Virtual Reality on Preoperative Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

J Clin Med. 2020 Sep 29;9(10):3151. doi: 10.3390/jcm9103151.


Virtual reality (VR), a technology that provides a stimulated sensory experience, has recently been implemented in various fields of medicine. Several studies have investigated the efficacy of VR on preoperative anxiety. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to validate whether VR could relieve preoperative anxiety in patients undergoing surgery. Electronic databases were searched to identify all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the effect of VR on preoperative anxiety. The primary outcome was defined as the preoperative anxiety scores. We estimated the effect size using the standard mean difference (SMD) with a 95% confidence interval (CI) using a random effect model. Ultimately, 10 RCTs, with a total of 813 patients, were included in the final analysis. Preoperative anxiety was significantly lower in the VR group than in the control group (SMD -0.64, 95% CI -1.08 to -0.20, p = 0.004). In a subgroup analysis, the preoperative anxiety scores were lower in the VR group than in the control group in pediatric patients (SMD -0.71, 95% CI -1.14 to -0.27, p = 0.002), whereas a significant difference was not observed between the two groups in adult patients (p = 0.226). The results of this meta-analysis indicated that VR could decrease preoperative anxiety, especially in pediatric patients.

Keywords: preoperative anxiety; surgery; virtual reality.