Chronic pain remains a prevalent problem across the United States. Chronic pain does not seem to have a function and relief of this symptom remains elusive for many sufferers. Virtual reality has been used as an adjunct therapy to decrease acute pain with promising results, but there is little research on whether virtual reality could be used as a successful intervention for those with chronic pain. Virtual reality has few side effects, so it warrants consideration for the treatment of chronic pain. There is growing evidence that there is potential for virtual reality to produce desired results with patients having chronic pain, but without more research this intervention cannot be confidently recommended (Garrett, Taverner, & McDade 2017). This thesis reviewed published research on the use of virtual reality in those with chronic pain. A total of seven studies that addressed virtual reality and chronic pain were analyzed and integrated into this literature review. All studies used virtual reality as a distraction to improve chronic pain. Three studies included patients with chronic back pain, one study included patients with chronic neck pain, and the remaining three studies addressed other types of chronic pain including chronic postoperative breast cancer pain, chronic neuropathic pain, and chronic generalized pain. All studies reviewed reported improvement of chronic pain symptoms. This literature review provides evidence to support the use of virtual reality for those with chronic pain. More rigorous research with larger sample sizes is needed to increase the generalizability of results to help people suffering with chronic pain from a variety of causes. This literature review used the search terms “chronic pain” and “virtual reality” and the following databases: EBSCOhost, Medline, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, PsycINFO, Academic Search Premiere, and Applied Science & Technology Source.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)
College of Nursing
Length of Campus-only Access
Whitehead, Alexis, "The Impact of Virtual Reality on Chronic Pain" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 773.