Implementation of virtual reality in healthcare: a scoping review on the implementation process of virtual reality in various healthcare settings

Marileen M. T. E. Kouijzer*, Hanneke Kip, Yvonne H. A. Bouman, Saskia M. Kelders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly used in healthcare settings as recent technological advancements create possibilities for diagnosis and treatment. VR is a technology that uses a headset to simulate a reality in which the user is immersed in a virtual environment, creating the impression that the user is physically present in this virtual space. Despite the potential added value of virtual reality technology in healthcare, its uptake in clinical practice is still in its infancy and challenges arise in the implementation of VR. Effective implementation could improve the adoption, uptake, and impact of VR. However, these implementation procedures still seem to be understudied in practice. This scoping review aimed to examine the current state of affairs in the implementation of VR technology in healthcare settings and to provide an overview of factors related to the implementation of VR.

To give an overview of relevant literature, a scoping review was undertaken of articles published up until February 2022, guided by the methodological framework of Arksey and O’Malley (2005). The databases Scopus, PsycINFO, and Web of Science were systematically searched to identify records that highlighted the current state of affairs regarding the implementation of VR in healthcare settings. Information about each study was extracted using a structured data extraction form.

Of the 5523 records identified, 29 were included in this study. Most studies focused on barriers and facilitators to implementation, highlighting similar factors related to the behavior of adopters of VR and the practical resources the organization should arrange for. However, few studies focus on systematic implementation and on using a theoretical framework to guide implementation. Despite the recommendation of using a structured, multi-level implementation intervention to support the needs of all involved stakeholders, there was no link between the identified barriers and facilitators, and specific implementation objectives or suitable strategies to overcome these barriers in the included articles.

To take the implementation of VR in healthcare to the next level, it is important to ensure that implementation is not studied in separate studies focusing on one element, e.g., healthcare provider-related barriers, as is common in current literature. Based on the results of this study, we recommend that the implementation of VR entails the entire process, from identifying barriers to developing and employing a coherent, multi-level implementation intervention with suitable strategies. This implementation process could be supported by implementation frameworks and ideally focus on behavior change of stakeholders such as healthcare providers, patients, and managers. This in turn might result in increased uptake and use of VR technologies that are of added value for healthcare practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number67
Number of pages29
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Early online date16 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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