Virtual Reality and Pain Management in Pediatric Oncology
Globally, 400,000 pediatric clients will be diagnosed with cancer every year, making pain management especially important in pediatric oncology settings (WHO, 2021). Pediatric oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer—uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells—in infants, children, and adolescents. Pain management is the assessment and treatment of different types of pain (Cleveland Clinic Medical Professional, 2021). Poor pain management can hinder childhood development and increase childhood morbidity, ultimately impacting the health and wellbeing of pediatric oncology patients (Gan, 2017). The typical standard of care for pain management in the pediatric oncology population consists of pharmacological interventions, NSAIDs and opioids, and nonpharmacological interventions such as art therapy, music therapy, and massage (ACCO, 2022). In conjunction with standard of care practices, virtual reality has shown promise in being an effective non pharmacological method to treat pain, especially in the pediatric population. Virtual reality is the utilization “of computer technology to create the effect of an interactive three-dimensional world in which the objects have a sense of spatial presence” (Bryson, 2021). The purpose of this Evidence-Based Practice Review is to explore how virtual reality impacts pain management in pediatric patients with cancer. Nurses play an essential role in pain management. Nurses must advocate for patients to receive optimal pain treatment and collaborate interprofessionally to design individualized pain management regimens.