Enhancing patient well-being in oncology waiting rooms: a pilot field experiment on the emotional impact of virtual forest therapy



Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Frontiers in Psychology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Medicine

Web https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1392397/full
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1392397
Keywords psycho-oncology; forest therapy; emotional well-being; stress reduction; virtual waiting room; valence; arousal
Description Introduction: This study explores the emotional impact of virtual forest therapy delivered through audio-visual recordings shown to patients in the oncology waiting rooms, focusing on whether simulated forest walks can positively influence patients’ emotional states compared to traditional waiting room stimuli. Methods: The study involved 117 participants from a diverse group of oncology patients in the outpatient clinic waiting room at the Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute. Using a partially randomized controlled trial design, the study assessed basic emotional dimensions—valence and arousal—as well as specific psychological states such as thought control, sadness, anxiety, and pain. This assessment used the Self-Assessment Manikin and the modified Emotional Thermometer before and after participants watched three video types (forest, sea, news). Baseline stress levels were measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6). Results: Participants exposed to forest and sea videos reported significant improvements in emotional valence and reduced arousal, suggesting a calming and uplifting effect. No significant changes were observed in the control and news groups. Secondary outcomes related to anxiety, sadness, and pain showed no significant interaction effects, though small but significant main effects of time on these variables were noted. Discussion: The findings suggest that videos of forest and sea can be a beneficial intervention in the oncology waiting rooms by enhancing patients’ emotional well-being. This pilot study underscores the potential for integrating virtual mental health support elements into healthcare settings to improve patient care experience.
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