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Virtual Reality for Cancer Patients: A Design Thinking Approach for a Sensory Experience to Reduce Stress and Pain

Scates, Diana and Dickinson, Joan I. and Sullivan, Kathleen and Cline, Holly (2018) Virtual Reality for Cancer Patients: A Design Thinking Approach for a Sensory Experience to Reduce Stress and Pain. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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Cancer is an illness devastating individuals’ lives all over the world. One in two men and one in three women are diagnosed with cancer in the United States per year. Individuals with cancer often face stressful events that may affect the cure process, including some cancer patients experiencing different levels of pain. While many cancer centers suggest treating pain with medication and non-drug treatment, none of them includes the usage of Virtual Reality (VR) as an alternative for stress and pain relief therapy. The purpose of this research is to determine if VR simulation reduces stress and pain levels among patients (n = 50) in a cancer treatment center. Design Thinking strategies are implemented in this study with the purpose of collecting and analyzing data to configure the best VR application used during the research process. This research study consists of two parts: Part One involved Design Thinking strategies and Part Two used an experimental design format. During Part One, the researcher implemented the following Design Thinking sessions: Interviewing, Schematic Diagramming, Storyboarding, and Think-Aloud Testing. The results from these strategies determined the content information (video) for the VR experience in Part Two. The researcher designed a VR simulation consisting of relaxing, peaceful, and tranquil nature scenes based on feedback received from former cancer patients, oncology nurses, oncologists, and caregivers (Part One of the study). The researcher assessed the designed VR simulation with a sample of cancer patients assigned to the IV station at Florida Cancer Affiliates (FCA) (Part Two of the study). At the IV station, the oncology nurses access the individual’s port or execute an IV procedure. For Part Two, participants received their typical port or IV access procedure and at the end of the procedure, they filled out a questionnaire that focused on the dependent variables of pain and stress. On the patient’s next visit to the FCA, he or she wore the VR headset glasses as well as headphones during their port or IV access procedure. The VR simulation was a sequence of 7-minute video loops. Once the 7 minutes was up and the IV procedure was complete, the participants completed the questionnaire again about their perceptions of the designed nature simulation along with open-ended questions geared toward stress and pain levels. Quantitative data revealed that cancer patients who watched the VR simulation content of nature scenes while assigned to the IV procedure were statistically more distracted, felt less frustration, and were more relaxed than those who did not wear the VR glasses. In the quantitative data analysis, the words relaxed, distracted, and similar phrases were used 53 times. The body language and the facial expressions of the patients were observed before, during, and after the VR experience, concluding the subject’s visible improvement. The findings revealed that VR simulation can be used as a key that has the potential to unlock good memories in cancer patients’ brain and trigger a process of relaxation capable of reducing stress through sensory stimuli.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Q Science > Q Science (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Radford University > College of Visual and Performing Arts > Department of Design
Depositing User: Diana Scates
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2018 19:48
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2022 12:43
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/422

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