D. Patterson, Ph.D., S. R. Sharar, M.D., M. Jensen, Ph.D., H. Hoffman, Ph.D., et al.
This project will test technological innovations in non-pharmacological pain control for patients who have sustained significant physical trauma. Studies will assess how virtual reality distraction and hypnosis can best be combined, and will follow patients on a long-term basis to determine whether improved pain control during hospitalization has impact post-discharge. Study 1 will test the impact of hypnosis delivered through immersive virtual reality technology on ongoing pain and anxiety of patients hospitalized for trauma (internal trauma, bone fractures or both). We will determine if intervention reduces opioid analgesic use, hospital stay and sleep problems, relative to a control condition consisting of virtual reality distraction and standard treatment. Study 2 will take the next step in laboratory studies that combine hypnosis and virtual reality distraction. Using a sample of college students undergoing thermally induced pain, we will determine if audiotaped hypnotic suggestions increase the sense of "presence" in an immersive virtual reality environment and decrease ratings of thermal pain. Study 3 will follow the sample of trauma patients treated in Study 1 at 6 and 12 months post-discharge to determine whether improved pain control during hospitalization translates into health benefits with time. The project will: 1) test new technology that could be applied to millions of patients in pain, 2) test an approach that could prove cost-effective by reducing analgesic opioid use and hospital stay, 3) further theoretical work in pain control that can produce the benefits above and 4) form a bridge between advancements in acute and chronic pain.