Floriane Rousseaux 1 , 2 , 3 , Aminata Bicego 1 , 2 , 3 , Didier Ledoux 3 , 4 , Paul Massion 4 , Anne-Sophie Nyssen 1 , 3 , Marie-Elisabeth Faymonville 2 , Steven Laureys 5 , Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse 2 , 3
21 May 2020
Hypnosis is well documented in the literature in the management of acute and chronic pain. Virtual reality (VR) is currently gaining credibility in the same fields as hypnosis for medical applications. Lately, the combination of hypnosis and VR was considered. The aim of this scoping review is to understand the current studied contexts and effects of virtual reality hypnosis (VRH) for the management of pain. We searched on PubMed, Taylor & Francis Online, and ProQuest databases with the following terms: “virtual reality,” “3D,” “hypnosis,” and “pain”. We included 8 studies that combined hypnosis and VR. All articles are in English. Two included healthy volunteers and six are clinical studies. Short-term results indicated significant decreases in pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, time spent thinking about pain, anxiety, and levels of opioids. However, results are not consistent for all patients all the days. VR alone seems to reduce pain independently of the hypnotizability level. One study claimed that VR and hypnosis could alter each other’s effects and another argued that VR did not inhibit the hypnotic process and may even facilitate it by employing visual imagery. We cannot affirm that VR added value to hypnosis when they are combined. These trials and case series gave us indications about the possible applications of VRH in different contexts. Additional randomized clinical trials on VRH in the future will have to test this technique in clinical practice and help define guidelines for VRH utilization in pain management.