Breast Cancer Foundation NZ launches virtual reality pilot trial
In a world first, Breast Cancer Foundation NZ has started their pilot trial, testing the benefit of virtual reality for patients with advanced breast cancer (ABC).
The trial, which is led by researchers from the University of Auckland, is investigating whether virtual reality can provide lasting relief from the physical and emotional side effects of advanced breast cancer – including anxiety, fatigue and pain – beyond just short-term distraction.
VR headsets loaded with beach, river and mountain scenes that have been specially developed in consultation with ABC patients will be delivered to 30 participants around NZ. We will assess whether a short session of VR engaging with this specific content can have sustained benefits for these people.
Some small overseas studies have shown benefits for patients using virtual reality for chronic pain, anxiety and stress. However, these have all been hospital-based and used much more expensive equipment. At last, VR technology is affordable enough, yet high enough quality, for us to proceed.
If this works, we envisage offering all advanced breast cancer patients a free headset to keep. They will use them in their own homes for symptom management whenever they feel the need.
We have started recruiting participants for the trial. If you have a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, would be comfortable wearing a VR headset, and have experienced pain, fatigue or anxiety over the past week, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch here.