Innovative technology-based interventions to reduce stigma toward people with mental illness: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Matías E. Rodríguez-Rivas*, Adolfo J. Cangas, Laura Cariola, Jorge J. Varela, Sara Valdebenito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Stigma towards people with mental illness presents serious consequences for the affected individuals, such as social exclusion and increased difficulties in the recovery process. Recently, several interventions have been developed to mitigate public stigma, based on the use of innovative technologies, such as virtual reality and video games.
Objective: To systematically review, synthesize, measure, and critically discuss experimental studies that measure the effect of technological interventions and on stigmatization levels.
Methods: This systematic review and meta-analysis was based on PRISMA guidelines, and included studies in English and Spanish published during the years 2016 and 2021. Searches were run in five different databases (i.e., Pubmed, PsycInfo, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and Science Direct). Only randomized controlled trials were included. Two independent reviewers determined the eligibility, extracted data, and rated methodological quality of the studies. Meta-analyses were performed using the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software.
Results: Based on the 1,158 articles screened, 72 articles were evaluated as full text, of which 9 articles were included in the qualitative and quantitative synthesis. A diversity of interventions was observed, including video games, audiovisual simulation of hallucinations, virtual reality, and electronic contact with mental health services users. The meta-analysis (n= 1,832 participants) demonstrated that these interventions had a consistent medium effect on reducing the level of public stigma (d=–0.64 95% CI 0.31-0.96; P<.001).
Innovative interventions involving the use of technologies are an effective tool in stigma reduction, therefore new challenges are proposed and discussed for the demonstration of their adaptability to different contexts and countries, thus leading to their massification.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalJMIR Serious Games
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Apr 2022


  • stigma
  • mental illness
  • technology-based
  • serious games
  • virtual reality
  • e-contact
  • simulation intervention
  • internet intervention
  • meta-analysis


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