A breast cancer diagnosis is a highly stressful experience that affects patients’ mental health. The study’s main objective was to compare the level of anticipative anxiety and depression in patients prepared for their first dose of chemotherapy for breast cancer with virtual reality vs. a standard psychoeducational intervention.
The study was single-center, comparative, and randomized and included a group that received four sessions with virtual reality and another that received four sessions of regular psychoeducational intervention based on mindfulness.
133 patients with a mean age of 49 SD 11.6; range 30–82) were included. Both groups showed a decrease in anxiety and depression with the Anxiety and Depression Scale, higher in the experimental group with significant differences. At three months, a more notable decrease in the Emotional Discomfort Detection Scale was observed in the experimental group, with significant differences. The fighting spirit and cognitive avoidance increased assessed with the MINI-MAC coping scale, higher in the experimental group, with significant differences in all evaluations.
A psychoeducational intervention protocol using virtual reality can improve anticipatory anxiety, depression, and emotional distress in breast cancer patients who must start chemotherapy.