Using virtual reality in palliative care: a systematic integrative review

Hannah Carmont, Sonja J McIlfatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
260 Downloads (Pure)


Recently, healthcare services have witnessed an exponential increase in the use of immersive and non-immersive virtual reality (VR) technology to improve health-related outcomes. However, the use of VR in palliative care remains relatively unexplored.

To review and synthesise evidence regarding the experiences of patients, families and healthcare professionals in palliative care who have engaged with immersive/non-immersive VR technology.

A systematic integrative review using pre-defined MeSH search terms to identify eligible studies from five electronic databases (Cochrane Library, CINAHL, OVID Medline, Pubmed and Scopus) between April 2020 and February 2021.

In total, 1066 articles were reviewed, 55 articles were considered eligible and subject to further analysis and a total of 16 articles met the inclusion criteria and were subject to critical appraisal. Rigorous analysis of eligible articles resulted in the identification of five overarching and interconnected themes: connection, VR as an emergent technology, perceptual change, safety, and future research.

This review identified that VR could support patients, families and healthcare professionals in palliative care. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings could prove particularly significant for facilitating connection. However, further research is necessary to explore the full scope of VR use in this speciality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-144
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Issue number3
Early online date2 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 MA Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Digital Health
  • Virtual Reality
  • Healthcare Technology
  • Palliative Care
  • End of Life Care
  • virtual reality
  • digital health
  • healthcare technology
  • palliative care


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