Immersive Virtual Reality for the Management of Pain in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

OTJR (Thorofare N J). 2019 Apr;39(2):90-96. doi: 10.1177/1539449218817291. Epub 2018 Dec 29.


Immersive virtual reality (VR) can provide a high level of engagement and distraction analgesia to address pain. However, community-based applications of this technology for older adults have not been studied. The objective of this study was to examine the applicability and effectiveness of an immersive VR intervention for pain, depression, and quality of life (QOL) in older adults. This pretest-posttest, mixed-methods design included senior center members ( n = 12) with pain that interfered with daily functioning. The outcomes included the Numeric Pain Rating Scale, Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS®) depression scale, World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale Brief Version (WHO QOL-BREF), and open-ended questions. The VR intervention (15- to 45-min sessions, 12 sessions over 6 weeks) was well accepted with no dropouts. There was a significant decrease in pain ( p = .002, d = -1.54) with no effect on depression and QOL. There were no adverse effects, and positive perceptions of VR were reported. The 6-week immersive VR intervention was applicable and effective in reducing pain intensity for community-dwelling older adults.

Keywords: aging; older adults; pain; quality of life; virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Intractable / rehabilitation*
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virtual Reality*