Improving Dental Experiences by Using Virtual Reality

Author: Karin Tanja-Dijkstra1, Sabine Pahl , Mathew P. White, Jackie Andrade, Cheng Qian, Malcolm Bruce, Jon May, David R. Moles

Published By: School of Psychology Plymouth University 

Published: 2014

Dental anxiety creates significant problems for both patients and the dental profession. Some distraction interventions are

already used by healthcare professionals to help patients cope with unpleasant procedures. The present study is novel

because it a) builds on evidence that natural scenery is beneficial for patients, and b) uses a Virtual Reality (VR)

representation of nature to distract participants. Extending previous work that has investigated pain and anxiety during

treatment, c) we also consider the longer term effects in terms of more positive memories of the treatment, building on a

cognitive theory of memory (Elaborated Intrusions). Participants (n = 69) took part in a simulated dental experience and

were randomly assigned to one of three VR conditions (active vs. passive vs. control). In addition, participants were

distinguished into high and low dentally anxious according to a median split resulting in a 362 between-subjects design. VR

distraction in a simulated dental context affected memories a week later. The VR distraction had effects not only on

concurrent experiences, such as perceived control, but longitudinally upon the vividness of memories after the dental

experience had ended. Participants with higher dental anxiety (for whom the dental procedures were presumably more

aversive) showed a greater reduction in memory vividness than lower dental-anxiety participants. This study thus suggests

that VR distractions can be considered as a relevant intervention for cycles of care in which people’s previous experiences

affect their behaviour for future events.

Improving Dental Experiences by Using Virtual Reality.pdf

Uploaded by Ash-Lee Hall
Uploaded on 2015-09-15 04:01:28

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