People with psychosis can experience social functioning impairments. Virtual reality (VR) has been used to assess and treat these difficulties. This systematic review (Prospero CRD42015026288) provides an evaluation of these VR applications. PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and Scopus were searched until May 2020. The Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) Quality Assessment Tool was used to assess studies. Database searching identified 3810 titles. Fifty-eight studies (published 2005-2020; N = 2,853), comprising twenty-six head-mounted display studies (20 assessment, 6 treatment) and thirty-two immersive 2D screen studies (23 assessment, 9 treatment), were included. There were forty-eight observational studies and ten randomised controlled trials, with 1570 participants (of which, 185 were at ultra-high risk of psychosis) in VR test groups. Nearly half the studies were published since 2016. Assessments targeted cognitive and behavioural indicators of social functioning, e.g. paranoia, eye gaze, or interpersonal distance. Treatments promoted cognitive-behavioural social skills or job interview training. Studies indicate feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of VR for social functioning impairments in psychosis. Limitations of studies include the narrow scope of social functioning, small sample sizes, and limited randomised controlled trials and standardised interventions. Findings suggest VR has potential to be integrated with existing psychological approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-362
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jun 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Virtual reality-based assessment and treatment of social functioning impairments in psychosis: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this