Virtual reality in psychiatric disorders: A systematic review of reviews

Błażej Cieślik, Justyna Mazurek, Sebastian Rutkowski, Paweł Kiper, Andrea Turolla, Joanna Szczepańska-Gieracha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Virtual reality (VR) is being used more and more often as a therapeutic tool in psychology or psychiatry. In recent years, VR interventions appear more extensively also in disorders such as depression, anxiety and phobia. However, there has yet to be a comprehensive synthesis and critical review of the literature to identify future directions to advance the field in this area. Objectives: To broadly characterize the literature to date on the application of VR in psychiatric disorders by conducting a systematic review of reviews, describe the limitations of existing research, suggest avenues for future research to address gaps in the current literature and provide practical recommendations for incorporating VR into various treatments for psychiatric disorders. Methods: PubMed and Web of Science databases were searched for reviews on VR use in psychiatric disorders (e.g. various pain perceptions, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, psychosis, depression). The methodological quality of each literature review was assessed using AMSTAR. Results: The original search identified 848 reviews, of which 70 were included in the systematic review of reviews. Broadly, the literature indicates that various VR interventions could be useful in different psychiatric disorders. Conclusion: This study provides evidence supporting the positive impact of VR therapy in psychiatric disorders. However, the impact is defined differently according to the studied area. Nevertheless, due to the continuous development of VR hardware and software, it is essential to conduct further research in the area of psychiatric disorders, especially as no review has concluded that VR does not work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102480
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Exposure therapy
  • Head-mounted display
  • Mental health
  • Psychology
  • Review
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing

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