Virtual reality (VR) during chemotherapy has resulted in an elapsed time compression effect, validating the attention diversion capabilities of VR. Using the framework of the pacemaker–accumulator cognitive model of time perception, this study explored the influence of age, gender, state anxiety, fatigue, and cancer diagnosis in predicting the difference between actual time elapsed during receipt of intravenous chemotherapy while immersed in a VR environment versus patient’s retrospective estimates of time elapsed during this treatment.
Materials and methods
This secondary analysis from three studies yielded a pooled sample of N = 137 participants with breast, lung, or colon cancer. Each study employed a crossover design requiring two matched intravenous chemotherapy treatments, with participants randomly assigned to receive VR during one treatment. Regressions modeled the effect of demographic variables, diagnosis, and Piper Fatigue Scale and State Anxiety Inventory scores on the difference between actual and estimated time elapsed during chemotherapy with VR.
In a forward regression model, three predictors (diagnosis, gender, and anxiety) explained a significant portion of the variability for altered time perception (F=5.06, p = 0.0008). Diagnosis was the strongest predictor; individuals with breast and colon cancer perceived time passed more quickly.
VR is a noninvasive intervention that can make chemotherapy treatments more tolerable. Women with breast cancer are more likely and lung cancer patients less likely to experience altered time perception during VR (a possible indicator of effectiveness for this distraction intervention). Understanding factors that predict responses to interventions can help clinicians tailor coping strategies to meet each patient’s needs.
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Data used in these analyses were from studies funded by the American Cancer Society, the Oncology Nursing Foundation (through an unrestricted grant from Ortho Biotech Products, L.P.), NINR 1 P20 NR07795-01 (PI: E. Clipp), and Duke University Medical Center.
The authors of this manuscript have no conflicts of interest to disclose. The authors have no financial relationship with the organizations that sponsored the research. The corresponding/primary author has full control of all the primary data and agrees to allow the journal to review the data if requested.
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Schneider, S.M., Kisby, C.K. & Flint, E.P. Effect of virtual reality on time perception in patients receiving chemotherapy. Support Care Cancer 19, 555–564 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-010-0852-7