Intensive Care Unit-Specific Virtual Reality for Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19: Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial

Johan H Vlake, Jasper van Bommel, Evert-Jan Wils, Joe Bienvenu, Merel E Hellemons, Tim Korevaar, Anna Fc Schut, Joost Am Labout, Lois Schreuder, Marten van Bavel, Diederik Gommers, Michel E van Genderen

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Although psychological sequelae after intensive care unit (ICU) treatment are considered quite intrusive, robustly effective interventions to treat or prevent these long-term sequelae are lacking. Recently, it was demonstrated that ICU-specific virtual reality (ICU-VR) is a feasible and acceptable intervention with potential mental health benefits. However, its effect on mental health and ICU aftercare in COVID-19 ICU survivors is unknown.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to explore the effects of ICU-VR on mental health and on patients' perceived quality of, satisfaction with, and rating of ICU aftercare among COVID-19 ICU survivors.

METHODS: This was a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Patients were randomized to either the ICU-VR (intervention) or the control group. All patients were invited to an COVID-19 post-ICU follow-up clinic 3 months after hospital discharge, during which patients in the intervention group received ICU-VR. One month and 3 months later (4 and 6 months after hospital discharge), mental health, quality of life, perceived quality, satisfaction with, and rating of ICU aftercare were scored using questionnaires.

RESULTS: Eighty-nine patients (median age 58 years; 63 males, 70%) were included. The prevalence and severity of psychological distress were limited throughout follow-up, and no differences in psychological distress or quality of life were observed between the groups. ICU-VR improved satisfaction with (mean score 8.7, SD 1.6 vs 7.6, SD 1.6 [ICU-VR vs control]; t64=-2.82, P=.006) and overall rating of ICU aftercare (mean overall rating of aftercare 8.9, SD 0.9 vs 7.8, SD 1.7 [ICU-VR vs control]; t64=-3.25; P=.002) compared to controls. ICU-VR added to the quality of ICU aftercare according to 81% of the patients, and all patients would recommend ICU-VR to other ICU survivors.

CONCLUSIONS: ICU-VR is a feasible and acceptable innovative method to improve satisfaction with and rating of ICU aftercare and adds to its perceived quality. We observed a low prevalence of psychological distress after ICU treatment for COVID-19, and ICU-VR did not improve psychological recovery or quality of life. Future research is needed to confirm our results in other critical illness survivors to potentially facilitate ICU-VR's widespread availability and application during follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere32368
Pages (from-to)e32368
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

©Johan H Vlake, Jasper van Bommel, Evert-Jan Wils, Joe Bienvenu, Merel E Hellemons, Tim IM Korevaar, Anna FC Schut, Joost AM Labout, Lois LH Schreuder, Marten P van Bavel, Diederik Gommers, Michel E van Genderen. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 31.01.2022.

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