Anorexia Nervosa, Body Image Perception and Virtual Reality Therapeutic Applications: State of the Art and Operational Proposal

Massimo Magrini, Olivia Curzio, Marco Tampucci, Gabriele Donzelli, Liliana Cori, Maria Cristina Imiotti, Sandra Maestro, Davide Moroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anorexia Nervosa (AN) patients exhibit distorted body representation. The purpose of this study was to explore studies that analyze virtual reality (VR) applications, related to body image issues, to propose a new tool in this field. We conducted a systematic review in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were explored; the review included 25 studies. Research has increased over the last five years. The selected studies, clinical observational studies (n = 16), mostly concerning patients’ population with AN (n = 14) or eating disorders (EDs) diagnosis, presented multiple designs, populations involved, and procedures. Some of these studies included healthy control groups (n = 7). Studies on community sample populations were also selected if oriented toward clinical applications (n = 9). The VR technologies in the examined period (about 20 years) have evolved significantly, going from very complex and bulky systems, requiring very powerful computers, to agile systems. The advent of low-cost VR devices has given a big boost to research works. Moreover, the operational proposal that emerges from this work supports the use of biofeedback techniques aimed at evaluating the results of therapeutic interventions in the treatment of adolescent patients diagnosed with AN.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2533
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Body image
  • Systematic review
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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