Background Virtual reality (VR) is an effective distraction therapy across a variety of healthcare settings but there is minimal research on its potential applications within obstetrics and gynaecology.
Aim To explore the acceptability and preferences for VR as distraction therapy within obstetrics and gynaecology.
Methods Questionnaires were developed and administered to seek both obstetric and gynaecology women’s and staff members’ opinions on VR use within clinical settings and hardware and software options. Likert scales were used to explore opinions on VR. Data were analysed by descriptive statistics.
Results 247 questionnaires were completed (90 obstetric and 157 gynaecology). On average 57% of women and 75% of staff felt positively about trialling VR within obstetric and gynaecology clinical settings. For hardware, glasses were the preferred head equipment but there were no clear preferences for image viewing. For software, ‘beach’ was the most popular environment and accompanying audio favoured. Women’s and staff members’ opinion on complete immersion was largely negative.
Conclusions There is wide acceptability for VR within obstetrics and gynaecology. Differing opinions for specific hardware and software preferences prompts consideration of clinical settings, end-users and healthcare professionals in the design of future VR technologies and clinical trials for obstetrics and gynaecology.
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article. Data and further information may be made available upon contact with the corresponding author.
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Contributors AMH co-designed the study, conducted scoping interviews, co-developed the questionnaire, performed statistical analysis, drafted the original manuscript and revised subsequent content. EW assisted with statistical analysis and revised manuscript content. AS advised on virtual reality technology to inform questionnaire content and revised manuscript content. AJ coordinated questionnaire administration and revised manuscript content. SH advised on virtual reality technology to inform questionnaire content and revised manuscript content. TL provided expert opinion on virtual reality technology to inform questionnaire content, including images, and revised manuscript content. FCD conceptualised and co-designed the study, co-developed the questionnaire, revised manuscript content and is responsible for the overall content as guarantor. All authors approved the final version for publication and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.
Funding The study received funding for patient and public involvement from the Academic and Clinical Central Office for Research and Development, the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian Health Board. This work was undertaken in the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health which is funded by MRC Centre grant (MRC G1002033). This work was also partially supported by the H2020 EU BEACONING Project (#687676).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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