A study using virtual reality to reduce stress and anxiety caused by cancer and the treatment of cancer (SafeSpace)

Cancer type:

All cancer types

Status:

Open

Phase:

Pilot

The researchers want to create a virtual reality experience for people with cancer to use to help improve their feelings of wellbeing and inner peace.

This study is being run at the Royal Marsden Hospital and is open to people:

  • before starting their treatment
  • during their treatment
  • recovering after their treatment
  • living with their cancer        

More about this trial

Having cancer and treatment for cancer can affect your physical and mental health.

Using virtual reality can help to decrease the pain and unpleasantness, such as discomfort and distress, that people might experience with some of the treatments they have.

The use of relaxation and mind training exercises has also been shown to decrease distress and improve the quality of life for people with other health conditions.

In this study the researchers want to develop a virtual reality intervention. This will be accessed using a virtual reality headset and a smartphone.

It will give you access to a series of guided exercises. These are designed to help you relax and cope with your cancer and its treatment.

There are 2 stages to this study.

The first stage is to come up with the ideas about what to have in the virtual reality experience. For this they will ask people about their experience of cancer and for their ideas and opinions.

The second stage is to test the virtual reality intervention. In this stage the researchers will ask people with cancer to try out the virtual reality experience. 

The main aim of this study is to develop the virtual reality intervention with the help of people with cancer.

Who can enter

The following bullet points list the entry conditions for this study. Talk to your doctor or the study team if you are unsure about any of these. They will be able to advise you.

Who can take part

You may be able to join this study if you have or have had cancer and are at least 18 years old.

Who can’t take part

You cannot join this study if you are not able to use the virtual reality headset. For example, you are registered blind, are not well enough or have another medical or mental health condition that could affect you using the headset. 

Trial design

There are 2 stages to the study. The first stage is to develop the virtual reality intervention. The second stage is a pilot study to test the intervention.

Stage 1 - This stage is now closed

In this stage the researchers need at least 10 people to join.

You are invited to take part in at least 1 and no more than 3 events. This will be with other people affected by cancer and members of the research team.

The aim of the events is to come up with ideas for the virtual reality experience, and to talk about and improve upon these ideas.

The initial event might last between 3 and 4 hours. There are breaks during the event and the team will provide refreshments.

Using the ideas from these events an initial version of the virtual reality experience is developed.

The researchers will then run a number of workshops to test the virtual reality intervention. 4 to 5 people will take part in each workshop. At each workshop you can try the virtual reality intervention, give feedback on it and suggest ways to develop it further.

Each workshop is between 1 and 2 hours long and are 4 weeks apart.

You decide how many of the events or workshops you attend. The team will give you all the details when you agree to take part.

Stage 2

In this stage the researchers need about 20 people to take part. They want people from different parts of the cancer journey. That is:

  • before starting their treatment
  • during their treatment
  • recovering after their treatment
  • living with their cancer

After agreeing to take part you contact the team to arrange a date, time and place to meet. For most people this will be during their treatment.

You fill in a questionnaire about your mental and emotional wellbeing. The questions include ones about your stress and anxiety levels, how you cope and how you feel about yourself.

The team take a number of measurements including your heart rate and breathing pattern.

These measurements are taken before, during and after treatment.

Researchers will use these measurements to assess how well the virtual reality intervention is working.

You use the virtual reality intervention on 3 separate occasions. The team will arrange these to take place when you go to the hospital for an appointment.

At each occasion you enter the virtual environment where you are guided through exercises. These exercises are slightly different each time.

You use the virtual reality intervention for 10 minutes and then fill in a couple of questionnaires which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The total time is about 30 minutes. 

Hospital visits

You are invited to attend the initial events and the later workshops. You can choose how many you want to attend.

Side effects

The researchers don’t expect there to be any side effects from the virtual reality intervention or involvement in this study.

Some people might find some of the subjects talked about in the events upsetting. These events are run by trained health professionals who are used to speaking about sensitive issues. They will not talk about anything you don’t want to.

When using virtual reality, a small number of people have felt sick (nausea) and experienced headaches. The research nurse will monitor you while using the virtual reality headset for any side effects.

You can stop using the virtual reality headset at any time.

Location

Chelsea

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Theresa Wiseman

Supported by

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Macmillan Cancer Support

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

15603

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

Rate this page:

No votes yet
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think