While the constraints of physical isolation and quarantine have been faced by all patients in hospitals since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients in palliative care experience even greater psychological distress when confronting their mortality isolated from family and friends. In the current situation, patients’ precious communication with loved ones is often restricted to phone and video calls which has a detrimental effect on their psychological well being in the final weeks of life. Mixed reality technologies offer novel opportunities for telepresence communication which overcome the constraints of physical isolation and facilitate embodied interaction with a greater sense of presence and immersion that can ultimately benefit palliative care patients physical and psychological wellbeing. Mixed reality technologies like VR and AR can also be used for pain relief, virtual travel, meditation and to complement and assist existing psychological interventions used by therapists working with patients in palliative care. Finally, virtual reality has been used to help individuals confront their mortality and overcome fear-of-death through virtual out-of-body experiences and narrative simulations of life and death cycles, offering new possibilities for the use of mixed reality to address the spiritual needs of palliative care patients.
The editors of the research topic Mixed Reality in Palliative Care are looking for papers which involve the development of novel Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) systems to improve the wellbeing of patients in palliative care. As the notion of ‘wellbeing’ is a complex topic which engages physiological, psychological and spiritual dimensions, we seek contributions which examine the full spectrum of issues which arise from the use of mixed reality in palliative care. As with the introduction of any novel technology, user experience is of paramount importance and technical considerations are directly related to the affective states they produce. The acute physical vulnerability of palliative care patients also requires technologies which are adapted to and responsive to their needs. Thus, papers which examine various software and hardware considerations related to user experience are also highly encouraged.
Examples of potential topics we would like to receive submissions on include:
- Mixed Reality Therapies for Palliative Care
- Use Cases and Applications of Mixed Reality in Palliative Care
- Medical and Clinical Considerations of Mixed Reality in Clinical Settings
- Accessibility considerations of weak, bedridden patients
- Ethical Issues and Considerations
- Socio-Cultural Aspects
Mixed Reality in Palliative Care welcomes submissions of the following article types: Brief Research Report, Correction, Data Report, Editorial, General Commentary, Hypothesis and Theory, Interviews, Methods, Mini Review, Opinion, Original Research, Perspective, Policy and Practice Reviews, Review, Systematic Review, and Technology and Code.
Royce Ng and Daniel Eckhoff are doctoral researchers in the Augmented Materiality Lab at the City University of Hong Kong. Royce Ng’s research explores the links between VR and altered states of consciousness and he is currently interested in the visualization techniques used in Eastern meditation traditions and how they can be simulated using VR. Daniel Eckhoff is researching how the human brain and body react to AR and how it can be used to develop novel therapies.