The Application of Fully Immersive Virtual Reality on Reminiscence Interventions for Older Adults: Scoping Review (Preprint) Institutional Repository Document uri icon



    The increasing number of older adults with mental, behavioral, and memory challenges presents significant public health concerns. Reminiscence is one type of nonpharmacological intervention that can effectively evoke memories, stimulate mental activities, and improve psychological well-being in older adults through a series of discussions on previous experiences. Fully immersive virtual reality (FIVR) may be a useful tool for reminiscence interventions because it uses realistic virtual environments connected to a persons significant past stories.


    This review aims to examine empirical evidence regarding the application of FIVR in reminiscence interventions, its usability and acceptability, and its effectiveness in assisting the intervention to achieve optimal outcomes.


    We followed the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) approach for scoping reviews. The PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, ACM, and IEEE Xplore electronic databases were used for the search. We included peer-reviewed studies that used FIVR as an assistive tool for reminiscence interventions; were published between January 1, 2000, and August 1, 2022; reported empirical research; involved older adults as participants; and addressed health- and behavior-related outcomes or the feasibility and usability of FIVR. We used Endnote X9 to organize the search results and Microsoft Excel for data extraction and synthesis.


    Of the 806 articles collected from the databases and other resources, 11 were identified. Most of the studies involved participants aged between 70 and 90 years. Only 1 study did not involve those with cognitive impairments, whereas 3 specifically targeted people living with dementia. The results indicated that FIVR reminiscence interventions enhanced engagement and reduced fatigue. Although some studies have observed positive effects on anxiety, apathy, depression, cognitive functions, and caregiver burden reduction, these findings were inconsistent across other research. In addition, FIVR showed overall usability and acceptability with manageable side effects among older adults across various health conditions during reminiscence sessions. However, 1 study reported adverse feelings among participants, triggered by unpleasant memories evoked by the virtual reality content.


    The role of FIVR in reminiscence interventions remains nascent, with limited studies evaluating its impacts on older adults. Many of the reviewed studies had notable limitations: small sample sizes, absence of rigorous research design, limited assessment of long-term effects, lack of measures for health and behavior outcomes, and quality of life. Beyond these limitations, this review identified a list of future research directions in 6 categories. On the basis of the review findings, we provide practical recommendations to enhance FIVR reminiscence interventions, covering topics such as virtual reality content, device choice, intervention types, and the role and responsibility of facilitators.

author list (cited authors)

  • Lu, Z., Wang, W., Yan, W., Kew, C. L., Seo, J. H., & Ory, M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Lu, Zhipeng||Wang, Wenjin||Yan, Wei||Kew, Chung Lin||Seo, Jinsil Hwaryoung||Ory, Marcia

Book Title

  • JMIR Preprints

publication date

  • January 2023