Improving Care in the Pediatric Emergency Department with Virtual Reality

Shelia Cotten, PhDPrincipal Investigator: Shelia Cotten, PhD, Director, Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation & Research, MSU Foundation Professor

Emergency departments (EDs) are often perceived as scary and induce anxiety in children, since ED visits are typically during periods of high stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Being stuck with a needle (to start an IV) may add to anxiety.  Currently at Sparrow, when a child in the ED shows sign of anxiety and/or high levels of pain, Caregivers will ask the child life specialist (CLS) to assist in distracting the child during the IV start. The child life specialist will visually distract the child, such as through the use of an iPad; however, the child can often still watch the nurses and the needle, resulting in a failure of the iPad distraction and the child becoming more anxious (as reported by the CLS). As the child becomes anxious, his/her pain perception significantly increases.  With VR, the child’s vision is blocked by the VR headset. Not only is the child distracted visually, but also auditorily with headphones connected to the headset. Previous research shows that the more senses used in the distraction method, the less likely the patient will experience intense pain.  By completely distracting the patient both visually and auditorily, the patient will be less likely to neither see nor hear the nurses, resulting in lower anxiety, higher relaxation, and therefore, lower pain. Although previous research shows a reduction in self-reported pain using VR, to our knowledge, this has not been tested with IV placements in the pediatric population in a busy ED, leading to a need for research in this area.

We will compare a VR intervention with the current standard of care (CLS distraction with an iPad) in reducing pain and anxiety in pediatric patients who need an IV placement when visiting the ED and reducing anxiety in the child’s parents/guardians. We will do this by sampling 60 patients (30 for the control group and 30 for the intervention group) between the ages of 5 and 10 years old who need an IV placement in the ED. Children who are not with a parent or guardian, cannot see or hear, are vulnerable to seizures, have received a J-tip or Buzzy Bea, or are nauseated/vomiting will not be included in this study.

Co-Investigators:

Marie Bowen, MEd
Research Analyst, Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research
Michigan State University

Kendra Kamp, BSN, RN
PhD Student, Trifecta Research Assistant
Michigan State University

Amy Blasen, DO, FACEP
Medical Director, Pediatric Emergency Department
Sparrow Hospital

Aileen Cebula, BS, CCLS, CIMI
Child Life Specialist
Sparrow Hospital

Kelly Hebert, BA, CCLS
Child Life Specialist
Sparrow Hospital

Jodi Nohel, BRE, CCLS
Child Life Specialist
Sparrow Hospital

Rick VanGessel, MSN, MBA, MSCJ, RN, EMT-P
Manager, Emergency Department
Sparrow Hospital

Rachel Latunski, BSN, RN, CEN, EMT-P, I/C
Assistant Department Manager, Emergency Department
Sparrow Hospital

Karl Engler, RN
Emergency Department
Sparrow Hospital

Kathleen Marble, MSN, RNC-NIC
Director of Women and Children’s Services
Sparrow Hospital

Richard Getter
Director of Client Services, Information Technology
Sparrow Hospital