The effectiveness of immersive virtual reality (VR) based mindfulness training on improvement mental-health in adults: A narrative systematic review

Author: Jingni Ma1, Dongrong Zhao2, Naihong Xu2, Jinmei Yang3
1 School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, UK.
2 Lanzhou Third People's Hospital, No. 130, Jianlan New Village, Qilihe District, Lanzhou 730050, China.
3 Lanzhou Third People's Hospital, Administration Building, No. 130, Jianlan New Village, Qilihe, Lanzhou, China. Electronic address:
Conference/Journal: Explore (NY)
Date published: 2022 Aug 5
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2022.08.001. , Word Count: 254

In recent years, digital techniques, such as virtual reality (VR) has been employed in tandem with more traditional psychological interventions. The aim of this study is to investigate whether VR-based mindfulness training can improve mental health outcomes, and notably mindfulness levels amongst adults. In addition, this review seeks to summarise the various designed VR scenarios, as well as those elements around VR that may assist people in practising mindfulness and meditation.

The search for eligible studies for inclusion was conducted via the following databases: the Applied Social Science Index & Abstract (ASSIA), PsychINFO, Medline, EMBASE, and the Web-of-Science Core Collection. Only experimental studies were eligible for inclusion, and specifically, those that compared the effectiveness of mindfulness training using immersive VR (on the one hand) with a control condition.

This search generated 2523 articles published between 2016 and 2022, and of these, 106 were assessed for eligibility. This review included seven studies, with a collective total of 798 participants. VR-based mindfulness training has been shown to be more effective than conventional mindfulness - it improves levels of mindfulness and meditation experience; but also shown to reduce anxiety, depression, improve sleep quality, emotion regulation, and generate mood improvement. VR-based mindfulness training frequently contains natural 'environmentally relevant' elements, such as forest, grassland, caves, sea, etc. CONCLUSIONS: This review suggests that using VR to assist mindfulness training is an effective and innovative way to improve mental health conditions within the adult population. Further directions and limitations are discussed.

Keywords: Mental health; Mindfulness; Systematic review; Virtual reality.

PMID: 36002363 DOI: 10.1016/j.explore.2022.08.001