A scene from the virtual reality visit to Wembury beach in Devon
dental anxiety virtual beach wembury

"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.

Read about the study
Associate Professor Sabine Pahl