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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 Dec 2021 - 17 Dec 2021


2021 Dec 10

J Pain

Three-month follow-up results of a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial of 8-week self-administered at-home behavioral skills-based virtual reality (VR) for chronic low back pain.



Prior work established post-treatment efficacy for an 8-week home-based therapeutic virtual reality (VR) program in a double-blind, parallel arm, randomized placebo-controlled study. Participants were randomized 1:1 to one of two 56-day VR programs: (1) a therapeutic immersive pain relief skills VR program; or (2) a Sham VR program within an identical commercial VR headset. Immediate post-treatment results demonstrated clinically meaningful and superior reduction for therapeutic VR compared to Sham VR for average pain intensity, indices of pain-related interference (activity, mood, stress but not sleep), physical function and sleep disturbance. The objective of the current report was to quantify treatment effects to post-treatment month 3 and describe durability of effects. Intention-to-treat analyses revealed sustained benefits for both groups and superiority for therapeutic VR for pain intensity and multiple indices of pain-related interference (activity, stress, and newly for sleep; effect sizes ranged from d = 0.56 to 0.88) and physical function from pre-treatment to post-treatment month 3. The between-group difference for sleep disturbance was non-significant and pain-interference with mood did not survive multiplicity correction at 3 months. For most primary and secondary outcomes, treatment effects for therapeutic VR showed durability and maintained superiority to Sham VR in the 3-month post-treatment period.