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Hypnosis Associated with 3D Immersive Virtual Reality Technology in the Management of Pain: A Review of the Literature

Authors Rousseaux F, Bicego A, Ledoux D, Massion P, Nyssen AS, Faymonville ME, Laureys S, Vanhaudenhuyse A

Received 21 September 2019

Accepted for publication 19 February 2020

Published 21 May 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 1129—1138

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S231737

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael A Überall


Floriane Rousseaux,1– 3 Aminata Bicego,1– 3 Didier Ledoux,3,4 Paul Massion,4 Anne-Sophie Nyssen,1,3 Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville,2 Steven Laureys,5 Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse2,3

1Laboratory of Cognitive Ergonomics and Work Intervention, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium; 2Algology Department, University Hospital of Liège, Liège, Belgium; 3Sensation & Perception Research Group, GIGA Consciousness, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium; 4Intensive Care Units, University Hospital of Liège, Liège, Belgium; 5GIGA Consciousness, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium

Correspondence: Floriane Rousseaux
Sensation & Perception Research Group, GIGA Consciousness, Domaine Universitaire du Sart Tilman, B35, Liege B4000, Belgium
Tel + 32 43 663 462
Email floriane.rousseaux@uliege.be
Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse
Algology Department and Sensation & Perception Research Group, GIGA Consciousness, Domaine Universitaire du Sart Tilman, B35, Liege B4000, Belgium
Tel + 32 43 668 033
Email avanhaudenhuyse@chuliege.be

Abstract: Hypnosis is well documented in the literature in the management of acute and chronic pain. Virtual reality (VR) is currently gaining credibility in the same fields as hypnosis for medical applications. Lately, the combination of hypnosis and VR was considered. The aim of this scoping review is to understand the current studied contexts and effects of virtual reality hypnosis (VRH) for the management of pain. We searched on PubMed, Taylor & Francis Online, and ProQuest databases with the following terms: “virtual reality,” “ 3D,” “hypnosis,” and “pain”. We included 8 studies that combined hypnosis and VR. All articles are in English. Two included healthy volunteers and six are clinical studies. Short-term results indicated significant decreases in pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, time spent thinking about pain, anxiety, and levels of opioids. However, results are not consistent for all patients all the days. VR alone seems to reduce pain independently of the hypnotizability level. One study claimed that VR and hypnosis could alter each other’s effects and another argued that VR did not inhibit the hypnotic process and may even facilitate it by employing visual imagery. We cannot affirm that VR added value to hypnosis when they are combined. These trials and case series gave us indications about the possible applications of VRH in different contexts. Additional randomized clinical trials on VRH in the future will have to test this technique in clinical practice and help define guidelines for VRH utilization in pain management.

Keywords: hypnosis, virtual reality, 3D animation, virtual reality hypnosis, acute pain, chronic pain

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