Predicting the effectiveness of virtual reality relaxation on pain and anxiety when added to PCA morphine in patients having burns dressings changes

A. H. Konstantatos, M. Angliss, V. Costello, H. Cleland, S. Stafrace

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Pain arising in burns sufferers is often severe and protracted. The prospect of a dressing change can heighten existing pain by impacting both physically and psychologically. In this trial we examined whether pre-procedural virtual reality guided relaxation added to patient controlled analgesia with morphine reduced pain severity during awake dressings changes in burns patients. Methods: We conducted a prospective randomized clinical trial in all patients with burns necessitating admission to a tertiary burns referral centre. Eligible patients requiring awake dressings changes were randomly allocated to single use virtual reality relaxation plus intravenous morphine patient controlled analgesia (PCA) infusion or to intravenous morphine patient controlled analgesia infusion alone. Patients rated their worst pain intensity during the dressing change using a visual analogue scale. The primary outcome measure was presence of 30% or greater difference in pain intensity ratings between the groups in estimation of worst pain during the dressing change. Findings: Of 88 eligible and consenting patients having awake dressings changes, 43 were assigned to virtual reality relaxation plus intravenous morphine PCA infusion and 43 to morphine PCA infusion alone. The group receiving virtual reality relaxation plus morphine PCA infusion reported significantly higher pain intensities during the dressing change (mean = 7.3) compared with patients receiving morphine PCA alone (mean = 5.3) (p = 0.003) (95% CI 0.6-2.8). Interpretation: The addition of virtual reality guided relaxation to morphine PCA infusion in burns patients resulted in a significant increase in pain experienced during awake dressings changes. In the absence of a validated predictor for responsiveness to virtual reality relaxation such a therapy cannot be recommended for general use in burns patients having awake dressings changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-499
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Burns analgesia
  • Burns dressings changes
  • Patient controlled analgesia
  • Virtual reality relaxation

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