Virtual reality gaming for physical activity and mood

Researchers at NICM Health Research Institute are looking for men aged 18 to 29 to join a clinical trial to find out if eight-weeks of playing physically active virtual reality (VR) games like Thrill of the Fight, Pistol Whip and Beat Sabre on an Oculus Quest can help them become more active and improve their mental health and wellbeing.


Who can join?

  • Men aged between 18 and 29 living in Australia, who:
    • Are not doing regular exercise (or haven’t stopped recently) – this includes things like going to the gym, playing sport or going for runs.
    • Have internet access via mobile phone, tablet or computer.
    • Are not currently doing or taking anything else that is designed to treat depression or low mood - this can be things like counselling therapy, taking antidepressant medication or natural therapies like St John’s Wort.

What's involved?

The recruitment and administration of this trial is all done online and via phone to comply with all social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19. No face-to-face contact is required with any member of the research team.

Participants will be asked to:

  • Read the participant information sheet and provide consent.
  • Screening via phone or zoom (10-minutes)
    • If you are eligible you will be randomly allocated to one of two groups; intervention or waitlist control.
    • Both groups will receive an Oculus Quest 2 VR gaming device and Polar heart rate monitor on loan to participate, but they will start at different times.
  • First phone or zoom ‘visit’ (20-minutes)
    • To assist with set up and use of the equipment and to complete the baseline measures (online questionnaires).
  • Gaming (at least 3 x 30 minutes/week)
    • During the eight-week intervention, you will be provided with a choice of virtual reality games.
    • You will be asked to play for at least three 30-minute sessions per week and track your sessions using a provided smartphone app.
  • Second phone or zoom ‘visit’ (10-minutes)
    • A half-way check-in and questionnaire during through the eight-weeks.
  • End of intervention phone or zoom ‘visit’ (20-minutes)
    • To assist with completing outcome questionnaires and to check on any adverse events.
    • You will then return the trial equipment to us via pre-paid package.
  • Follow up phone call (10-minutes)
    • Four weeks after the end of the intervention to follow up on any adverse events and to assist with a short follow-up survey.

What are the benefits of participating?

  • You have the opportunity to learn and play new games on recently released virtual reality equipment.
  • You may experience an increase in physical activity and subsequently an improvement in your mood.

Interested in participating in this study?

For more details about this study please read the following information before deciding whether to participate.

In order to confirm your eligibility and register your interest, please complete the online screening form below. The screening form will enable you to also book a convenient time to speak with a member of the research team to discuss the study:

For more information, please contact:

Fiona Hargraves
NICM Health Research Institute, Study Chief Investigator - PhD Candidate
e.     vrtrial@westernsydney.edu.au
p.     0468 908 779


Human Research Ethics Committee Approval: This clinical trial has been approved by Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval Number: H14118). This study is supported by NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University and Sci-Chem International Pty. Ltd.

Study Coordinating Principal Investigator: Dr Mike Armour, NICM Health Research Institute.