Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Elizabeth Capezuti

Committee Members

Wole Oyekoya

Carolyn Sun

Kathleen Capitulo

Subject Categories

Geriatric Nursing


Virtual reality, chronic pain, older adults, long term care


Older adults residing in Long-Term Care (LTC) have a high prevalence of chronic pain. Pain management strategies have primarily focused on pharmacological approaches, but with physiological changes associated with aging, this population is at an increased risk for adverse effects from prescribed medications. More research is needed on innovative non-pharmacological interventions in the LTC setting. This study examined the feasibility, acceptance, and preliminary efficacy of Virtual Reality (VR) for chronic pain among older adult veterans in LTC. In this quasi-experimental, 12 older adult participants living with chronic pain in a long-term care facility received two sessions of VR. Pain intensity was measured before and after the intervention using the Iowa Pain Thermometer (IPT). Post- intervention, the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Usage of Technology (UTAUT) instrument was administered to measure acceptance of the technology. A paired-samples t-test of the IPT scores, descriptive statistics of the responses to the UTAUT instrument, and proportions of adverse events and dropout rates were calculated. A statistically significant mean difference in pre and post pain scores was found in VR. The study results demonstrated that older adults living in LTC would accept VR for chronic pain relief, with eighty-three percent of the participants responded that they found VR helps relieve chronic pain (M= 4.33, SD .958). Ninety-one percent responded that VR was easy to use (M=4.67, SD =.651). In addition, there were no adverse reactions or side effects during the study and zero dropouts. The results indicate VR significantly decreased chronic pain intensity post intervention and promoted relaxation in older adults with chronic pain. Virtual reality is feasible in the LTC setting among older adults with no adverse reactions observed or reported and no dropouts from this study. This easy-to-use, safe, fast, and effective intervention should be added as a non-pharmacological approach to pain management in the LTC setting to provide pain relief.