top of page

Trial of 8-Week Self-Administered Behavioral Skills-Based Virtual Reality (VR) for Chronic BACK PAIN


Therapeutic VR and Sham VR both yielded benefits at 3 months post-treatment.

Therapeutic VR was superior for reducing pain intensity and other pain outcomes.

VR results were clinically meaningful, and superiority was maintained at 3 months.

Future work will assess durability of treatment effects at 6 months.

Future research should prioritize diversity in race, ethnicity, and education.


Prior work established post-treatment efficacy for an 8-week home-based therapeutic virtual reality (VR) program in a double-blind, parallel arm, randomized placebo-controlled study. Participants were randomized 1:1 to 1 of 2 56-day VR programs: 1) a therapeutic immersive pain relief skills VR program; or 2) a Sham VR program within an identical commercial VR headset. Immediate post-treatment results demonstrated clinically meaningful and superior reduction for therapeutic VR compared to Sham VR for average pain intensity, indices of pain-related interference (activity, mood, stress but not sleep), physical function, and sleep disturbance. The objective of the current report was to quantify treatment effects to post-treatment month 3 and describe durability of effects. Intention-to-treat analyses revealed sustained benefits for both groups and superiority for therapeutic VR for pain intensity and multiple indices of pain-related interference (activity, stress, and newly for sleep; effect sizes ranged from drm = .56–.88) and physical function from pre-treatment to post-treatment month 3. The between-group difference for sleep disturbance was non-significant and pain-interference with mood did not survive multiplicity correction at 3 months. For most primary and secondary outcomes, treatment effects for therapeutic VR showed durability, and maintained superiority to Sham VR in the 3-month post-treatment period.


We present 3-month follow-up results for 8-week self-administered therapeutic virtual reality (VR) compared to Sham VR in adults with chronic low back pain. Across multiple pain indices, therapeutic VR had clinically meaningful benefits, and superiority over Sham VR. Home-based, behavioral skills VR yielded enduring analgesic benefits; longer follow-up is needed.

Key Words

Behavioral health

chronic low back pain


randomized controlled trial

virtual reality

Three-Month Follow-Up Results of a Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of 8-Week Self-Administered At-Home Behavioral Skills-Based Virtual Reality (VR) for Chronic Low Back Pain - The Journal of Pain (

bottom of page