VERT Program Eases Patient Anxiety, Improves Understanding of Treatment for Prostate Cancer

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Patients with prostate cancer were surveyed and later experienced a virtual version of of radiation therapy.
Patients with prostate cancer were surveyed and later experienced a virtual version of of radiation therapy.

A virtual simulation education program reduced some of the anxiety patients with prostate cancer face before radiation therapy, results from a pilot study published in the Journal of Radiation Oncology have shown.1

A multidisciplinary team from Jefferson College of Health Professions and Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, conducted a study with 22 patients with prostate cancer.

For the study, the men completed a 16-question survey that assessed their anxiety and comprehension. The survey measured patients' anxiety levels associated with various aspects of care, including being alone in the treatment room, treatment precision, claustrophobia, effects of daily x-ray exposures, and pain.

After completing the survey, the team of experts used Virtual Environment Radiotherapy (VERT™) software to provide personalized education for each participant.2 VERT, modeled after a flight simulator, engaged the participants in life-size visualizations and 3-dimensional views of radiation therapy. Participants then repeated the survey after completing the education session.

Postsurvey results showed a significant decrease in anxiety and an increase in comprehension compared with presurvey results. In addition, the researchers found that the patients and their families' comments were unanimously positive in terms of satisfaction. The investigators report that development of personalized, site-specific, clinic-based virtual modules is their long-term goal following these initial positive findings.
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