Virtual Reality and Oncology
21 February 2023
In this year in France, the clinic Clinique Clémentville, Montpellier and the institut Montpellier Institut Du Sein, made a literature review article about how the Virtual Reality (VR) helps oncologic patients. So today I am going to give you a resume about this topic and data that results me interesting.
Even when we can say this article it is recent, the interest of VR to the doctors is over the 20 years. And we can see this, because more and more researchers are studying the effects of virtual environments to support patients undergoing oncological treatment. Recent research highlights how VR can divert attention while reducing anxiety in stressful healthcare situations through its multisensory and participative nature.
VR appears to be a promising tool capable of reducing cancer-related anxiety symptoms, improving treatment adherence, and increasing satisfaction with oncology care.
Yet, few studies have focused on theoretical models capable of explaining the psychological benefits of virtual immersion. So, this literature review provides a theoretical framework combining results from all relevant empirical work to help researchers identify the optimal conditions for using VR in oncology and bridge the gap between divergent devices, modalities, and practices like: immersion time, environments, head-mounted displays, interactivity.
Keeping into account that in the last 30 years ago, the cases of cancer have been increasing, it is understandable to discover that many patients share another kind of illnesses besides the cancer, as a result of many stress agents and physical symptoms can cause increased emotional distress welcoming mental issues, like depression and anxiety.
And why the Virtual Reality have been highlighted?
Because the studies have highlighted the benefits of VR, which, helps to distract, as a result can divert attention while reducing the anxiety and pain of patients facing particularly distressing care situations.
As we already mentioned in a previous paragraph, exist few studies have focused on the theoretical models of cognitive science that explain and try to understand the benefits of VR. And for these kinds of investigations, we know only these foundations can give scientific legitimacy. Also, let us note that these foundations could be used as support to design specialized interfaces adapted to different clinical situations.
As we know, VR became more accessible for consumer use after 2016. Through applications that allow the user to navigate and interact in real-time with a three-dimensional environment generated by a computer. In other words, different systems offer users different sensations and levels of involvement.
- Data source and search method
They used the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) method, for that, they proceeded to apply six computerized databases: Google Scholar, PubMed, PsychInfo, Academic Search Premier, Ebsco, and Sciencedirect to search for relevant studies. Also, they put a limited search to 10 years (2011–2021). And for each database, we used the same search terms: virtual reality and cancer, virtual reality and oncology, virtual reality and anxiety, virtual reality and cancer and anxiety, virtual reality and pain, virtual reality and cancer and pain.
- Study selection
The authors incorporated studies that explicitly examining the effectiveness of VR as a distraction tool in oncology. In this sense, were excluded all studies that were unrelated to cancer and all research conducted with cancer populations whose purpose was not associated with distraction to improve emotional state and decrease pain.
- Data collection
The way used to collect the data, was through extracted all relevant information from the selected articles into an Excel file. And was organized as characteristics of the study population sample, type of cancer, psychological variables, VR equipment, environments, immersive tasks, methodology, objectives of the studies, medical context, stated theoretical frameworks and main results.
- Data analysis
They even selected articles were subjected to a literature review to exploit and classify the results according to recurrent characteristics that allowed the different studies to be compared. The selected characteristics included VR equipment, immersive modalities, environments, effectiveness of VR in oncology, theoretical basis for the benefits of VR, limitations, and future direction of VR distraction to decrease pain intensity and anxiety in clinical situations.
With this type of research or scientific articles, one can see the seriousness with which people work to improve the lives of many people and in this case not only for leisure, but to soothe pain and control anxiety. I hope they can prove its use and also that it becomes more and more affordable for the entire population. And you, what do you think?