Virtual Reality Experience Intervention May Reduce Responsive Behaviors in Nursing Home Residents with Dementia: A Case Series Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Background: People with advanced dementia often exhibit responsive behaviors such as apathy, depression, agitation, aggression, and psychosis. Non-pharmacological approaches (e.g., listening to music, watching television, doing arts and crafts) are now considered as a first-line strategy to manage responsive behaviors in clinical practice due to the potential risks associated with the antipsychotic medications. To date, no evaluations of immersive non-head mounted virtual reality (VR) experience as a non-pharmacologic approach for people with advanced dementia living in nursing homes have been reported. Objective: To evaluate the feasibility (acceptance and safety) of VR experience. Methods: A single site case series (nonrandomized and unblinded) with a convenience sample (N = 24; age = 85.8±8.6 years; Cognitive Performance Scale score = 3.4±0.6) measuring depression and agitation before and after the intervention. The intervention was a 30-min long research coordinator– facilitated VR experience for two weeks (10 sessions). Results: The intervention was feasible (attrition rate = 0% ; adverse events = 0). A reduction in depression and in agitation was observed after the intervention. However, we suggest extreme caution in interpreting this result considering the study design and small sample size. Conclusion: This study provides the basis for conducting a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of VR experience on responsive behaviors in nursing homes. Since our intervention uses a smart remote-controlled projector without a headset, infectious exposure can be avoided following the COVID-19 pandemic-induced physical distancing policy in care homes.


  • Sultana, Munira
  • Campbell, Karen
  • Jennings, Morgan
  • Montero-Odasso, Manuel
  • Orange, JB
  • Knowlton, Jill
  • St. George, Armin
  • Bryant, Dianne

publication date

  • November 9, 2021