Adopting Virtual Reality to promote Health Literacy in Patients with Persistent Pain: Qualitative Analysis of UK-based Physiotherapists.

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Background: Persistent pain is a complex global issue which has significant impact on quality of life. Poor health literacy further impacts quality of life in people with persistent pain. It is recommended that education is provided to improve health-related knowledge. VR is an engaging learning tool and could improve health literacy. Research exploring the feasibility of physiotherapists using VR to develop health literacy is minimal.

Objectives: To determine the feasibility of a VR-based pain education system among physiotherapists and understand barriers and facilitators to its adoption in clinical practice.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with physiotherapists in the UK after they used a VR-based pain education system which combines sensory-altering experiences with pain science education. Thematic analysis was used to identify considerations related to its feasibility and its potential to influence health literacy in patients with persistent pain.

Results: All participants (n=12) believed that the VR system could develop several aspects of health literacy, such as information understanding and appraisal. Challenges to clinical integration include allowing for increased clinical time, system training and ensuring the use of VR represents both personalised and evidence-based care.

Conclusion: The VR pain management system was considered a feasible adjunct to address health literacy by increasing the plausibility of information and addressing health related understanding, appraisal, and application. Future research is required to validate the effectiveness of VR-based education systems to improve health literacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPain Research and Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jul 2024


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