Background: An extreme fear of needles results in patients avoiding procedures that involve needle exposure, potentially compromising their health outcomes. Virtual reality is a simulated three-dimensional environment created using an audio-visual headset that may reduce patients’ level of anxiety during needle exposure.

Aims: The primary aim of the study is to determine the feasibility of using virtual reality to manage anxiety and reduce fear during intravenous cannulation. The safety and experiences of patients and health care professionals using virtual reality will be explored.

Methods: This feasibility study will use mixed methods. Participants will undergo needle exposure with standard care and the virtual reality intervention. Quantitative data of physiological vital signs and qualitative data, gathered using semi-structured interviews, will be used to describe participants’ physiological and anxiety responses. Both patient and clinician experiences of, barriers to and enablers of the virtual reality intervention will be explored.

Discussion: Distraction therapy using a virtual reality simulated environment has the potential to reduce negative patient reactions associated with needle phobia. If virtual reality is found to be a feasible distraction therapy for adult patients with needle fear, then larger trials can be undertaken to determine the effectiveness of the intervention as part of usual practice.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.