Efficacy of serious games for chronic pain management in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ita Daryanti Saragih, Ira Suarilah, Ice Septriani Saragih, Yen Ko Lin, Chia Ju Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aims and Objectives: To synthesise and appraise the evidence of the efficacy of serious games in reducing chronic pain among older adults. Background: Chronic pain in older adults generally results in a substantial handicap due to decreased mobility, exercise avoidance and various concerns that affect their overall quality of life. While serious games have been widely used as a pain management approach, no reviews have thoroughly examined their efficacy for chronic pain management in older adult populations. Design: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Methods: The CINAHL, the Cochrane Library, Embase, Medline, PubMed and Web of Science databases were comprehensively searched to find articles published from their inception until 17 April 2023. RoB-2 was used to assess the risk of bias in the included studies. The efficacy of serious games for pain management in older individuals was investigated using pooled standardised mean differences (SMDs) in pain reduction using a random effect model. Results: The meta-analysis comprised nine randomised controlled trials that included 350 older adult patients with pain. Serious games effectively alleviated pain in this group (pooled SMD = −0.62; 95% confidence interval: −1.15 to −0.10), although pain-related disability and fear require further investigation. Conclusions: Serious games tended to effectively reduce pain in this older adult group; however, due to a lack of randomised controlled trials, the analysis found lower effectiveness in reducing pain-related disability and fear. Further studies are accordingly required to confirm these findings. Relevance to Clinical Practice: The findings of the study emphasise the importance of serious games to increase the motivation of older adults to exercise as one of the safe and extensively used pain management strategies. Serious games that effectively reduce chronic pain in older adults are characterised as consisting of diverse physical activities delivered through consoles, computer-based activities and other technologies. Patient or Public Contributions: Serious games are recommended as being potentially useful and practical for reducing pain in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • meta-analysis
  • older adults
  • pain
  • serious games


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