Virtual reality for relatives of ICU patients to improve psychological sequelae: Study protocol for a multicentre, randomised controlled trial

Johan H. Vlake, Jasper Van Bommel, Evert Jan Wils, Tim Korevaar, Merel E. Hellemons, Eva Klijn, Anna F.C. Schut, Joost A.M. Labout, Marten P. Van Bavel, Margo M.C. Van Mol, DIederik Gommers, Michel E. Van Genderen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction Intensive care unit (ICU) admission of a relative might lead to psychological distress and complicated grief (post-intensive care syndrome-family; PICS-F). Evidence suggests that increased distress during ICU stay increases risk of PICS-F, resulting in difficulty returning to their normal lives after the ICU experience. Effective interventions to improve PICS-F are currently lacking. In the present trial, we hypothesised that information provision using ICU-specific Virtual Reality for Family members/relatives (ICU-VR-F) may improve understanding of the ICU and subsequently improve psychological well-being and quality of life in relatives of patients admitted to the ICU. Methods and analysis This multicentre, clustered randomised controlled trial will be conducted from January to December 2021 in the mixed medical-surgical ICUs of four hospitals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. We aim to include adult relatives of 160 ICU patients with an expected ICU length of stay over 72 hours. Participants will be randomised clustered per patient in a 1:1 ratio to either the intervention or control group. Participants allocated to the intervention group will receive ICU-VR-F, an information video that can be watched in VR, while the control group will receive usual care. Initiation of ICU-VR-F will be during their hospital visit unless participants cannot visit the hospital due to COVID-19 regulations, then VR can be watched digitally at home. The primary objective is to study the effect of ICU-VR-F on psychological well-being and quality of life up to 6 months after the patients' ICU discharge. The secondary outcome is the degree of understanding of ICU treatment and ICU modalities. Ethics and dissemination The Medical Ethics Committee of the Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, approved the study and local approval was obtained from each participating centre (NL73670.078.20). Our findings will be disseminated by presentation of the results at (inter)national conferences and publication in scientific, peer-reviewed journals. Trial registration number Netherlands Trial Register (, NL9220).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere049704
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This study was supported by DSW (for the HORIZON-IC Project; no grant number available), Stichting Theia (grant number: 2020286), Stichting SGS (grant number: 2020355) and BeterKeten (for the HORIZON-IC Project; no grant number available).

Publisher Copyright:
© Authors 2021.


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