Staff at Bayhealth using Virtual Reality to reduce stress

Does Virtual Reality Reduce Stress?

Thursday, March 25, 2021 | COVID-19

Driven to find additional ways to reduce staff stress levels, team members at Bayhealth are introducing virtual reality experiences to the organization. The team members are testing the effectiveness of the virtual reality technology on staff who care for patients on designated COVID units. The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an added layer of stress that healthcare workers face each day. Exploring meaningful and impactful ways to reduce stress is something that the organization has supported now more so than ever before. 
 
“There are many studies out there that show that virtual reality works in helping reduce patient stress levels. There’s just not much out there regarding reducing staff stress levels, especially healthcare staff,” said Cardiac Clinical Nurse Specialist Ludy Santiago-Rotchford, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, PCCN. She teamed up with Clinical Informatics Nurse Will Harvey, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, to collaborate on a study. 
 
Over a four-week period, the research team alternated between Bayhealth Kent and Sussex campuses, offering virtual reality experiences on day and night shifts, and weekends as well.  
 
Participants wore a virtual reality headset to simulate a five to 10-minute guided meditation. They rated their stress level before and after the experience. Vital signs were also measured before and after. “Studies have shown that it can reduce stress levels which results in lowered blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates while increasing your temperature,” said Santiago-Rotchford. “The reason it does that is because when you’re more relaxed you have vasodilation and with that your temperature can go up.”

One way for innovative initiatives like this to expand is through the generosity of donations granted to the Bayhealth Foundation. The team’s ultimate goal is to have their research prove its effectiveness and to have virtual reality headsets in every breakroom and every department so that staff can have access to another form of stress reduction.

“I would also like to see it used with our patients, possibly in the emergency department, laboring women, or those experiencing acute pain or anxiety, and even our education department,” expressed Harvey.
 
Both Harvey and Santiago-Rotchford say that so far everyone who has participated in the study has enjoyed it and given positive feedback.
 
If you would to like to support initiatives that bring care and comfort to our staff and patients, visit Bayhealth.org/Foundation or call 302-744-7015 to learn how you can make a donation.