"Bottled nature" in the form of virtual reality (VR) can help reduce patients' pain levels.
Plymouth psychologists found that patients who were able to walk around a natural environment using the technology experienced reduced levels of anxiety.
The natural environment was a key factor, the researchers added, as those who experienced an urban VR environment did not receive the same benefits.
Watch a BBC clip about the research
Read the Open Access publication 'The Soothing Sea' from Environment and Behaviour
Sabine Pahl, co-ordinator of the research
Walking around the virtual city did not improve outcomes, showing that merely distracting the patients isn’t enough, the environment for a patient’s visit needs to be welcoming and relaxing. It would be interesting to apply this approach to other contexts
Published in Environment & Behaviour, by the Universities of Plymouth, Exeter and Birmingham who worked with Torrington Dental Practice in Devon.