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Abstract: PO1189

Fully Immersive Virtual Reality-Based Mindfulness Intervention in Hemodialysis Patients: A Pilot Study Assessing Safety and Utility

Session Information

Category: Dialysis

  • 701 Dialysis: Hemodialysis and Frequent Dialysis


  • Burrows, Brett, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States
  • Browning, Matthew H. E. M., Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, United States
  • Solai, Killivalavan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States
  • Fast, Drew, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States
  • Litbarg, Natalia O., University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Moskowitz, Judith T., Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Wilund, Kenneth Robert, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States
  • Hernandez, Rosalba, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States

Virtual reality (VR) is an evolving technology that is becoming a more common treatment for pain management and psychological phobias. While non-immersive VR (i.e., Nintendo Wii) has been used in trials involving hemodialysis (HD) patients, no studies to date have used fully immersive VR as a tool for intervention delivery. Because HD treatment and fully immersive VR have similar potential adverse side effects (e.g., fatigue, nausea), the current pilot trial tests the initial safety and utility of fully immersive VR during maintenance HD treatment sessions.


HD patients (n=20) were enrolled in a single-arm pre-post pilot study. Participants were exposed to our fully immersive VR program, JovialityTM, which delivered mindfulness training and guided meditation using the Oculus Rift head-mounted display. Participants experienced our 25-minute program on two separate occasions during HD treatment sessions. Participants recorded their level of HD treatment and/or motion-related symptoms prior to VR exposure and then again immediately following each VR exposure using the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire (SSQ). Validated utility measures included participant’s ability to be fully immersed in the virtual environment, interact with virtual objects, and find our VR program user-friendly.


Mean age was 55.3 (±13.1) years; 80% male; 60% African American; and mean dialysis vintage was 3.56 (±3.75) years. The SSQ displayed significant decreases in total composite symptom score following VR Exposure 1 (22.6 vs. 11.2; p=0.03). Decreases were evident after Exposure 2, though these were non-significant (11.97 vs 7.29; p= 0.18). Participants reported high levels of spatial presence in the VR world with an average of 5.03/7.0 and they rated our VR program as easy to operate, with average System Usability Scores of 82.8/100.


HD patients routinely suffer from fatigue, nausea, and dizziness during HD, and we hypothesized that fully immersive VR may exacerbate these symptoms. By contrast, we saw a significant reduction in severity of symptoms on at least one of the two exposure days. Fully immersive VR may be a safe mode of intervention delivery during HD.