Virtual reality vs. tablet for procedural comfort using an identical Game in Children Undergoing Venipuncture. A Randomized Clinical Trial


Recent research has explored the effectiveness of interactive virtual experiences in managing pain and anxiety in children during routine medical procedures, compared to conventional care methods. However, the influence of the specific technology used as an interface, 3-dimensions (D) immersive virtual reality (VR) versus 2D touch screens, during pediatric venipuncture, remains unexamined. This study aimed to determine if immersive VR is more effective than a tablet in reducing pain and anxiety during short procedures. An interactive game was designed by clinicians and psychologists, expert in pain theory, hypnosis, and procedural pain and anxiety relief, and was tailored for both VR and tablet use. Fifty patients were randomly assigned to either the Tablet or VR group. The primary outcome measures were pain and anxiety levels during the procedure. Secondary outcome measures included the need for physical restraint, duration of the procedure, enjoyment levels, and satisfaction ratings from both parents and nurses. Results showed low pain and anxiety levels in both groups. Physical restraint was infrequently used, procedures were brief, and high satisfaction levels were reported by patients, parents, and nurses. The study suggests that the type of technology used as a support for the game has a minimal effect on the child’s experience, with both groups reporting low pain and anxiety levels, minimal physical restraint, and high enjoyment. Despite immersive VR’s technological advancements, this study underscores the value of traditional tablets with well-designed interactive games in enhancing children’s wellbeing during medical procedures.

Frontiers in Pediatrics. 12:1378459
Corrado Corradi˗Dell'Acqua
Corrado Corradi˗Dell'Acqua
Neuroscientist - Cognitive Psychologist - Data Scientist