BackgroundAnxiety levels before cesarean delivery (CD) can lead to a negative birth experience, which may influence several aspects of the woman's life in the long term. Improving preoperative information may lower preoperative anxiety and lead to a more positive birth experience.
ObjectiveThis study aimed to determine whether a virtual reality (VR) video in addition to standard preoperative information decreases anxiety levels before a planned CD.
MethodsWomen scheduled to undergo term elective CD were recruited from the outpatient clinic. They were randomized and stratified based on history of emergency CD (yes or no). All participants received standard preoperative information (folder leaflets and counseling by the obstetrician); the VR group additionally watched the VR video showing all aspects of CD such as the ward admission, operating theater, spinal analgesia, and moment of birth. The primary outcome measure was a change in score on the Visual Analogue Scale for Anxiety (?VAS-A) measured at admission for CD, compared with the baseline VAS-A score.
ResultsA total of 97 women were included for analysis. The baseline characteristics were similar in both groups, except for a significantly higher level of education in the control group. There was no significant decrease in the VAS-A score of the women in the VR group (n=49) compared with those in the control group (n=48; ?VAS-A=1.0; P=.08; 95% CI -0.1 to 2.0). Subgroup analysis for the group of women with a history of emergency CD showed a trend toward decreased preoperative anxiety, despite the small sample size of this subgroup (n=17; P=.06). Of the 26 participants who provided completed questionnaires, 22 (85%) in the VR group reported feeling more prepared after seeing the VR video; of the 24 participants' partners who completed the questionnaires, 19 (79%) agreed with the participants. No discomfort or motion sickness was reported.
ConclusionsA VR video may help patients and their partners feel better prepared when planning a CD. This study showed that VR does not lead to a decrease in preoperative anxiety. However, subgroups such as women with a history of emergency CD may benefit from VR videos.
Trial registrationInternational Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) 74794447; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN74794447 (retrospectively registered).
SUBMITTER: Noben L