Using the theoretical domains framework to inform the implementation of therapeutic virtual reality into mental healthcare

Olivia S. Chung, Nathan L. Dowling, Catherine Brown, Tracy Robinson, Alisha M. Johnson, Chee H. Ng, Murat Yücel, Rebecca A. Segrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Evidence supporting the efficacy of therapeutic virtual reality (VR) for mental health conditions is rapidly growing. However, little is known about how best to implement VR, or the challenges perceived by treatment providers. This study aimed to (1) synthesis perspectives of staff working in private mental healthcare and (2) use the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) and Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) to identify mechanisms of change targets and intervention functions to facilitate its clinical implementation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with clinicians (n = 14) and service managers (n = 5) working in a major private mental health hospital in Victoria, Australia. Transcripts were coded using framework analysis to identify relevant TDF domains. Specific belief statements were generated and coded as a barrier and/or facilitator and thematically organised within domains. Domains were ranked for importance based on frequency, elaboration, and evidence of conflicting beliefs. Using the BCW, domains were mapped to their respective COM-B components and indicated intervention functions. A total of 11 TDF domains were identified as relevant to early-stage implementation of therapeutic VR. Three domains were judged as highly important (beliefs about consequences; environmental context and resources; knowledge), while seven domains were judged as moderately important (social/professional role and identity; emotions; skills; memory, attention, and decision processes; intentions; beliefs about capabilities; social influences). Based on current data, we propose a theory-informed roadmap to promote VR uptake in mental healthcare services. A priority for intervention development should be addressing knowledge gaps and attitudinal barriers (e.g., safety concerns) with education and training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-268
Number of pages32
JournalAdministration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research
Issue number2
Early online date13 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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