DOI: 10.3390/healthcare11243129 ISSN: 2227-9032

Design and User Experience of VirNE Application: Deep Breathing Exercise in a Virtual Natural Environment to Reduce Treatment Anxiety in Pediatrics

Ilmari Jyskä, Markku Turunen, Arash Chaychi Maleki, Elina Karppa, Sauli Palmu, John Mäkelä, Kaija Puura
  • Health Information Management
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Policy
  • Leadership and Management

Treatment anxiety is a serious problem among child patients. A few studies have addressed this issue with virtual reality solutions, with promising results; however, the applications used have generally been designed for entertainment instead of this purpose. This article studies the potential of using deep breathing exercises in a virtual natural environment to address this issue, with a focus on design approach and user experience. It presents the VirNE—Virtual Natural Environments relaxation application, which is based on known stress-reduction methods, and a feasibility study conducted with it in a local hospital. The study had a within-subjects design, and it included 21 eight to twelve-year-old child patients, who used the application during an intravenous cannulation procedure related to their treatment. The study found good user acceptance and user experience both among the child patients and pediatricians, with the perceived usefulness of the method being higher among the patients with increased levels of anxiety or needle phobia. In addition, a clear stress-reducing effect was found. This offers proof-of-concept for the multidisciplinary design approach based on existing scientific knowledge regarding the desired effect for pediatric virtual reality applications for this use context.

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