Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 263–270 | Cite as

A positive psychological intervention using virtual reality for patients with advanced cancer in a hospital setting: a pilot study to assess feasibility

  • Rosa M. BañosEmail author
  • Macarena Espinoza
  • Azucena García-Palacios
  • José M. Cervera
  • Gaspar Esquerdo
  • Enrique Barrajón
  • Cristina Botella
Original Article



This study presents data on the feasibility and possible benefits of a psychological intervention that uses virtual reality to induce positive emotions on adult hospitalized patients with metastatic cancer. The patient’s satisfaction and perceived utility was also examined.


The sample was composed of 19 patients (53 % men, aged from 29 to 85 years old; x = 60.9; standard deviation = 14.54). The intervention consisted of four 30-min sessions during 1 week in which patients navigated through virtual environments designed to induce joy or relaxation. Mood was assessed before and after each session using the Visual Analog Scale. Patient satisfaction was assessed after each session and at the end of the intervention. Qualitative data were also collected with open-ended questions.


There were no major difficulties with the use of devices, and any difficulties that did arise were solved through practice. There were adequate levels of pleasantness and perceived utility of the proposed intervention. The main perceived benefits were distraction, entertainment, and promotion of relaxation states. Regarding mood changes, an increase in positive emotions and a decrease in negative emotions were also detected.


The intervention was positively assessed and rated as minimally uncomfortable. Future actions are discussed as well as the need to implement brief interventions that take into account the patients’ medical state and physical discomfort level, especially with those in the advanced stages of disease.


Virtual reality Cancer Positive psychology Positive emotions Mood induction procedures 



This work was partially funded by Generalitat Valenciana, PROMETEO (2008/157), Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (PSI2010-09568-E). CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición is an initiative of ISCIII.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript have no conflicts of interest to disclose. The authors have no financial relationship with the organization that sponsored the research. The authors have full control of all the primary data and agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosa M. Baños
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Macarena Espinoza
    • 1
  • Azucena García-Palacios
    • 2
    • 4
  • José M. Cervera
    • 3
  • Gaspar Esquerdo
    • 3
  • Enrique Barrajón
    • 3
  • Cristina Botella
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Universitat de ValenciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Universitat Jaume ICastellón de la PlanaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto del Tratamiento Integral del Cancer (ITIC)Hospital Clínica BenidormAlicanteSpain
  4. 4.CIBER Fisiopatología Obesidad y Nutrición (CB06/03)Instituto de Salud Carlos IIIMadridSpain

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