Individuals with chronic physical illness are at increased risk of negative psychological sequelae. Immersive virtual reality (VR) is an emerging treatment that might reduce these negative effects and increase quality of life in individuals with chronic physical illness.
To systematically review literature examining the use of immersive VR in adult populations with chronic physical illness to understand: (1) how immersive VR is used to improve psychological well-being of adults with chronic physical illness (2) what effect this immersive VR has on the psychological well-being of adults with chronic physical illness.
Systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Searches of Ovid Medline/PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, Web of Science and Scopus between July 1993 and March 2023 inclusive.
12 811 texts were identified; 31 met the inclusion criteria. Relaxing and engaging immersive VR interventions were shown to be acceptable and feasible among adults with cancer, dementia, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and multiple sclerosis. Many of the studies reviewed were feasibility or pilot studies and so the evidence about effectiveness is more limited. The evidence, mostly from studies of people with cancer, suggests that immersive VR can have a positive effects on anticipatory anxiety symptoms and pain.
Environment-based and game-based relaxing immersive VR offer novel interventions, with beneficial effects among people with cancer and, potentially, beneficial effects in those with other long-term physical illness.