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Virtual reality for NHS staff wellbeing

The importance of the promotion of workplace wellbeing, particularly among NHS staff, is becoming increasingly apparent. There is an urgent need for effective, affordable, and accessible staff wellbeing interventions. Meeting this need is challenging, particularly in NHS settings, where employees typically face large workloads and immense pressure - a situation that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increasingly, attention is being paid to the emerging body of evidence which suggests that Virtual Reality (VR) technology is a promising tool for the promotion of workplace wellbeing - particularly in healthcare settings. Given the recent advances in this technology, its increased accessibility and the release of a wide-range of high-quality “relaxing” or “positive” virtual reality experiences, further exploration of how this technology might be used is warranted.

In a previous study by researchers at the Fred Company, a relaxing VR nature experience, delivered during the working day, was associated with significant increases in emotions such as relaxation and happiness, and significant decreases in anxiety and stress in NHS staff working in a trauma service. Further, the intervention was found to be feasible, safe and comfortable, despite the samples’ limited experience with technology.

The VR-SWELL (VR for Staff WELLbeing) research project expands on this work, and is a collaboration, facilitated by the Brunel Partners Academic Centre for Health Sciences (BPACHS), between the Fred Company, Brunel University London and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL).

The aim of the project is to work more closely with a small number of NHS staff, from a variety of departments within CNWL, to explore the acceptability and feasibility of using VR technology on a wider scale, and what that might look like.

We aim to recruit 25 healthy NHS staff from various departments across CNWL who have an interest in using VR. Each staff member will be provided with a VR headset, loaded with a range of applications, for a two-week period. The staff will be provided with training and supported to use the variety of applications in any way they wish, enabling the research team to capture staff feedback via both qualitative and quantitative measures.

This work may identify a potentially fruitful avenue of investigation concerning how VR could be used to promote NHS staff wellbeing, the findings of which could be applied to staff working in healthcare settings and beyond.


Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project


Project last modified 12/10/2021