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"Effect of virtual reality on pain during vascular access in children fear, there is significant heterogeneity between studies" Saliba et al (2021).

Effect of virtual reality on pain during vascular access in children


Venous access procedures are painful and feared by children and their parents. Virtual reality has become increasingly prominent and has been shown to be effective in various procedures. The aim of this meta-analysis was to examine virtual reality’s effect on pain and fear in children from 4 to 12 in the context of vascular access. From the 20th to the 26th December 2020, we searched Sciencedirect, Springerlink, CENTRAL, Pubmed and PMC. Studies using virtual reality versus a control in vascular access for children were included in a meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of virtual reality regarding pain as a primary and fear/anxiety as a secondary endpoint during the procedures. The Jadad scale and Delphi List were used to assess study quality. 20,894 citations were identified, 9 met our inclusion criteria. One publication was conducted in two different situations and was thus considered as 2 studies. Compared to standard of care, virtual reality significantly reduced pain (10 studies, 930 participants: standardized mean difference 2.54, 95%CI 0.14-4.93, p = 0.038), and fear/anxiety (6 studies, 648 participants: SMD 0.89, 95%Cl 0.16-1.63, p = 0.017). For both parameters, we found significant heterogeneity between studies. This is the first meta-analysis to look at the use virtual reality in young children undergoing vascular access procedures, providing weak to moderate evidence for its use. Although large effect sizes provide evidence for a positive effect of virtual reality in reducing pain and fear, there is significant heterogeneity between studies. More research with larger groups and age stratification is required.


Saliba T, Schmartz D, Fils JF, Van Der Linden P. The use of virtual reality in children undergoing vascular access procedures: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Monit Comput. 2021 May 30. doi: 10.1007/s10877-021-00725-w. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34052954.