Starlight launch report on impact of Virtual Reality Distraction Therapy

Today we are launching a report to present the findings of our research study on the impact of Virtual Reality Distraction Therapy.

In 2021, Starlight teamed up with Leeds Children’s Hospital to conduct an exciting new research study into the impact of ‘Virtual Reality Distraction Therapy’ (VRDT) on children’s hospital procedures.

Dr Alex Paes (Leeds Children’s Hospital, Paediatric Consultant), Dr. Sandy S Cabrita Gulyurtlu (Head of Insights and Impact, Starlight) and Karl Ward (Leeds Children’s Hospital, Lead Nurse in Research and Innovation) led on the design, development of the research tools, and set up of the study, which successfully gained NHS regulatory approval. Lisa Beaumont (Leeds Children’s Hospital, Therapeutic & Specialised Play Manager) secured all partners together to fund and deliver this work. As part of this research Starlight funded the secondment of a Health Play Specialist (Tracey Martin) to this study who received regular guidance and supervision from colleagues at Starlight and Leeds Children’s Hospital. 110 children took part in this study indicating it is one of the largest studies in the UK on the use of VR in play in hospital. This piece of action research is also one of very few studies conducted by a Health Play Specialist.

Our findings suggest that:

  • VR has a positive impact on the experience of treatment
  • VR is an effective form of distraction in treatment
  • It is important to have a trained health play specialist delivering the VR as part of the treatment
  • The efficiencies made by using VR suggest this could have economic value to the NHS’s use of resources

The study also underlines the importance of Health Play Specialists, and their integral role in the delivery of VR interventions. We would like to thank the True Colours Trust, National Institute of Health and Care Research Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR PSTRC) and Dubit for their invaluable contribution to this work; by supporting the research, the secondment of the Health Play Specialist and the required hardware for the study.

“It is clear from this study that VR can have a significant impact in transforming and improving children’s experiences and perspectives of treatment. The success of this study is greatly attributed to role that the Health Play Specialist played in delivering this project. Their professional acumen enabled us to effectively integrate VR into treatment and capture the data we needed to make this study a success.”

– Dr. Sandy S. Cabrita Gulyurtlu – Head of Insight and Impact, Starlight

“We have shown that play specialists can lead on research and get the most out of VR for the benefit of the children we treat at Leeds Children’s Hospital. VR offers us an innovative avenue into improving the experience and health of children both short-term and long-term.”

– Dr. Alex Paes – Consultant Paediatrician, Chief Investigator, Leeds Children’s Hospital

“Really exciting time for health play specialists, so wonderful to be involved in such a fabulous piece of research that will make a positive difference to children and young person’s treatments for years to come.”

– Lisa Beaumont – Head of Play, Principal Investigator, Leeds Children’s Hospital