Importance: Adequate bowel preparation is essential for diagnostic, screening, and surveillance colonoscopy. Virtual reality (VR) has the characteristics of immersion, interaction, and imagination and has been widely used in medicine for training and teaching, indicating that it could be used in the education of outpatients for bowel preparation before colonoscopy.
Objective: To investigate whether using VR videos for patient education before colonoscopy could improve bowel preparation.
Design, setting, and participants: A prospective, single-blinded, randomized clinical trial of 346 patients undergoing colonoscopy with local anesthesia in a tertiary care hospital was conducted between October 1, 2018, and November 1, 2020. Outpatients who had indications for colonoscopy and had not received one before were enrolled. Statistical analysis was performed from November 1 to December 31, 2020. All data were analyzed according to the intention-to-treat approach.
Exposures: Conventional bowel preparation education (oral instructions and written materials that had the same contents) or conventional education plus VR videos.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was the quality of bowel preparation measured by the Boston Bowel Preparation Scale score (range, 0-9, where 0 indicates extremely unsatisfactory bowel preparation and 9 indicates complete bowel preparation). Secondary outcomes included polyp and adenoma detection rates, compliance with complete bowel cleansing, preprocedure anxiety, overall satisfaction, and willingness to undergo a follow-up colonoscopy.
Results: A total of 346 outpatients were enrolled in the trial, with 173 patients randomly assigned to each group (control group: 87 women [50.3%]; mean [SD] age, 50.5 [12.5] years; VR video group: 84 women [48.6%]; mean [SD] age, 52.6 [11.4] years). Baseline characteristics, including demographic information, medical history, lifestyle, and the characteristics of stool, were comparable between the VR video group and the control group. The mean (SD) Boston Bowel Preparation Scale score was significantly higher in the VR video group than in the control group (7.61 [1.65] vs 7.04 [1.70]; P = .002). The detection rate of polyps (72 of 172 [41.9%] vs 46 of 172 [26.7%]; P = .003) and the detection rate of adenomas (56 of 172 [32.6%] vs 38 of 172 [22.1%]; P = .03) were also higher in the VR video group. Patients who received VR education had better compliance (119 [68.8%] vs 87 [50.3%]; P < .001) and higher mean (SD) overall satisfaction (8.68 [1.70] vs 8.16 [2.15]; P = .01) with bowel preparation.
Conclusions and relevance: Patients who received VR video education before colonoscopy had better bowel preparation, higher polyp and adenoma detection rates, and improved compliance and satisfaction.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03667911.