Single-session gamified virtual reality exposure therapy for spider phobia vs. traditional exposure therapy: A randomized-controlled trial
2016 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Introduction: Traditional one-session therapy (OST) in which a patient is gradually exposed to feared stimuli for up to 3hrs in a one-session format has been found effective for the treatment of specific phobias. However, many suffering from specific phobia are reluctant to seek help and access to care is lacking. Virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy using a smartphone may improve upon existing techniques by facilitating access, lowering cost, and increasing acceptability and effectiveness. The aim of this study was to compare traditional OST with in-vivo spiders and a human therapist to a newly developed single-session gamified VR exposure therapy application with modern VR headsets, virtual spiders and a virtual therapist.
Method: Participants with specific phobia to spiders (N=100) were recruited from the general public, screened and randomized to either OST (N=50) or VR exposure therapy (N=50) using the smartphone-based Samsung Gear VR system. A behavioral approach test using in-vivo spiders served as the primary outcome measure. Secondary outcome measures included spider phobia questionnaires, and self-reported anxiety, depression and quality of life. Outcomes were assessed 1-week before and after treatment and at follow-up (12 and 52 weeks).
Results: At the time of submitting this abstract all participants have been included and randomized and a large portion has also received the allotted treatment. However, since the study uses strict blinding, results will not be available until March 2016.
Discussion: VR exposure therapy has previously been evaluated as a treatment for specific phobias but there has been a lack of high-quality randomized controlled trials. A new generation of modern VR devices are being released which advance upon existing technology and have the potential to improve clinical availability and treatment effectiveness.
Conclusion: Preliminary clinical observations suggest that single-session gamified virtual reality exposure therapy using a smartphone is effective for the treatment of spider phobia.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
virtual reality, gamified, exposure therapy, spider phobia
Research subject Psychology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134745OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-134745DiVA: diva2:1037711
The 8th Scientific Meeting of the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions, Seattle, USA, 7-9 April 2016.