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Virtual reality in specialist palliative care: a feasibility study to enable clinical practice adoption

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Amara Nwosu
  • Mark Mills
  • Simon Roughneen
  • Sarah Stanley
  • Laura Chapman
  • Stephen Mason
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>21/02/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
Issue number1
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)47-51
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date17/02/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: The use of virtual reality (VR) is increasing in palliative care. However, despite increasing interest in VR, there is little evidence of how this technology can be implemented into practice. Aims: This paper aims to: (1) explore the feasibility of implementing VR therapy, for patients and caregivers, in a hospital specialist inpatient palliative care unit and a hospice, and (2) to identify questions for organisations, to support VR adoption in palliative care. Methods: The Samsung Gear VR system was used in a hospital specialist palliative inpatient unit and a hospice. Patients and caregivers received VR distraction therapy and provided feedback of their experience. Staff completed a feedback questionnaire to explore their opinion of the usefulness of VR in palliative care. A public engagement event was conducted, to identify questions to support implementation of VR in palliative care settings. Results: Fifteen individuals (12 (80%) patients and 3 (20%) caregivers) participated. All had a positive experience. No adverse effects were reported. Ten items were identified for organisations to consider ahead of adoption of VR in palliative care. These were questions about: the purpose of VR; intended population; supporting evidence; session duration; equipment choice; infection control issues; content choice; setting of VR; person(s) responsible for delivery and the maintenance plan. Conclusions: It is feasible to use VR therapy in palliative care; however, further evidence about its efficacy and effectiveness is needed. Palliative care practitioners considering VR use should carefully consider several factors, to ensure that this technology can be used safely and effectively in clinical practice.