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No effect seen on postoperative anxiety or pain levels.

Use of augmented reality (AR) reduces preoperative anxiety but does not affect postoperative anxiety, pain levels, or narcotic use when compared with a standard education packet, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in JAMA Network Open.

Michael G. Rizzo Jr., M.D., from the University of Miami, and colleagues examined whether use of an AR walkthrough affects patient perioperative anxiety in a randomized clinical trial. Ninety-five patients undergoing elective orthopedic surgery were randomly assigned to the treatment or control group (46 and 49, respectively). The AR experience explained what to expect on the day of surgery and walked patients through the surgery space; the control group received a standard education packet.

The researchers found that from the screening to preoperative survey, the AR group experienced a significant decrease in anxiety while the standard care group experienced an increase. Postoperatively, all patients experienced a mean decrease in anxiety score compared with the screening survey and preoperative survey. Overall, 71.4 percent of the 42 patients in the AR group who completed the postoperative follow-up survey agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoyed the experience, and 69.0 and 66.7 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they would recommend the experience and that they would repeat the experience, respectively. There were no differences in postoperative pain levels or narcotic use.

“The administration of a preoperative AR experience decreased preoperative patient anxiety, and with most patients enjoying the experience, but there was no significant effect on postoperative anxiety, pain levels, or narcotic use,” the authors write.

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