Virtual reality during work breaks to reduce fatigue of intensive unit caregivers: A crossover, pilot, randomised trial

Published:March 01, 2022DOI:



      Intensive care unit (ICU) caregivers are exposed to high levels of stress. Work-related stress can impact quality of life and may lead to burnout. Virtual reality (VR) simulates a person's presence in a pleasant and enjoyable artificial environment. Thus, VR may be used to improve breaktime efficacy during the work shift of ICU caregivers.


      The study objectives were to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of VR to decrease stress, anxiety, and fatigue, as well as to increase work disconnection during the breaktime.


      We conducted a prospective, monocentric, open-label, crossover, randomised study comparing a half an hour breaktime including an 8-min-long VR session and a usual breaktime among ICU caregivers, on two consecutive work shifts. Participants were evaluated before and after the breaktime as well as at the end of the work shift for stress, anxiety, fatigue, and work disconnection using visual analog scales.


      For the 88 participants, VR was easy to use. VR induced a significantly higher reduction in the fatigue score after the breaktime. Individual changes in the fatigue score were +0.17 (1.87) vs. −0.33 (1.87). A significantly higher feeling of disconnection from the work environment at the end of the breaktime was also observed with VR: 5.98 (3.04) vs. 4.20 (2.64). No significant difference was observed for other parameters, in particular at the end of the shift.


      VR sessions could improve the efficacy of breaktimes among ICU caregivers and contribute to a better quality of work life; repeated or longer sessions may be required to induce sustained effects.


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