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Virtual reality exposure therapy for adolescents with fear of public speaking: a non-randomized feasibility and pilot study
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Haukeland University Hospital, Norway; Karolinska Institutet, Sweden; Stockholm County Council, Sweden.
Number of Authors: 32019 (English)In: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, ISSN 1753-2000, E-ISSN 1753-2000, Vol. 13, no 1, article id 47Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background Public Speaking Anxiety (PSA) is a common anxiety with onset in adolescence and early adulthood. With the advent of consumer virtual reality (VR) technology, VR-delivered exposure therapy is now a scalable and practical treatment option and has previously been shown to be efficacious with adults. In this non-randomized feasibility and pilot trial, we explore the effect of one-session (90 min) VR-delivered exposure therapy for adolescents (aged 13-16) with PSA. Methods A total of 27 adolescents were recruited from Norwegian high schools and completed self-report measures of PSA twice prior to treatment, 1 week after treatment, and at 1 and 3 month follow-up. Heart rate was recorded during the treatment session. A low-cost head-mounted VR display with a custom-built VR stimuli material depicting a cultural and age appropriate classroom and audience were used when a series of speech (exposure exercises) were performed. Results Linear mixed effects model revealed a significant decrease in PSA symptoms (Cohen's d = 1.53) pre-post treatment, and improvements were maintained at follow-ups. Physiological data revealed a small increase in heart rate during exposure tasks. Based on feedback from the adolescents, the feasibility of the intervention was increased during the trial. Conclusions The results show that low-cost, consumer VR hardware can be used to deliver efficacious treatment for PSA in adolescents, in a feasible one-session format.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 13, no 1, article id 47
Keywords [en]
Virtual reality, Virtual reality exposure therapy, Public Speaking Anxiety, Cognitive behavior therapy, Adolescents, Inhibitory learning
National Category
Psychiatry Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178783DOI: 10.1186/s13034-019-0307-yISI: 000504730200001PubMedID: 31890004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178783DiVA, id: diva2:1396189
Available from: 2020-02-25 Created: 2020-02-25 Last updated: 2020-02-25Bibliographically approved

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