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Feasibility of an immersive virtual reality intervention for first trimester abortion: a pilot study

Shiliang Zhang, University of California, Los Angeles

Project abstract

Perception of pain during surgical abortion is nuanced and affected by physical as well as psychosocial factors—notably the experience of anxiety—which can significantly increase perceived pain during abortion. It is found that women who suffer from anxiety are more likely to experience greater pain during gynecological procedures.

Furthermore, pain management in the setting of gynecologic procedures is complex. While local anesthesia is commonly used, studies suggest that multimodal approaches may be more effective methods of pain management during gynecological procedures. However, the application of non-pharmacological pain and anxiety control adjuncts during gynecological procedures is not well studied, especially with regards to first-trimester surgical abortion.

Recent innovation in virtual reality (VR) has generated increased interest in its potential use as an innovative and non-invasive method for managing patient anxiety and subsequently decreasing acute pain. Our work will assess the practicality and qualitative experiences of women using VR during first-trimester surgical abortion at the University of California Los Angeles West-Medical Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic.

Through this mixed method pilot study, we will evaluate the feasibility of using VR and its effect on procedure-related anxiety in the setting of first-trimester surgical abortion. Our work ultimately seeks to improve the experience of women undergoing first-trimester surgical abortion.


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