Study: Automated VR psychotherapy can help reduce anxiety and distress, especially among those with psychosis and severe agoraphobia

Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty VR spin­out demon­strates sig­nif­i­cant psy­chother­a­py ben­e­fits in Lancet study (Fierce Healthcare):

Vir­tu­al real­i­ty can help treat symp­toms in patients with psy­chosis, accord­ing to a new study pub­lished in The Lancet Psychiatry.

GameChangeVR auto­mates psy­chother­a­py, guid­ing users with a vir­tu­al coach. It was devel­oped by Oxford­VR, a dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics com­pa­ny, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foun­da­tion Trust … The study, based on 346 patients, found that auto­mat­ed VR ther­a­py led to “sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tions” in symp­toms of anx­ious avoid­ance and dis­tress. The tech­nol­o­gy espe­cial­ly ben­e­fit­ed those with severe symp­toms. The study con­clud­ed that the tech­nol­o­gy has the poten­tial to increase access to effec­tive care for psychosis.

One of the ben­e­fits of VR is that patients know they are in a sim­u­la­tion, which enables “psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tance from prob­lem­at­ic reac­tions,” the study authors wrote. “The process of find­ing the best uses and imple­men­ta­tion meth­ods of this immer­sive tech­nol­o­gy at scale in men­tal health is only beginning.”

The Study:

Auto­mat­ed vir­tu­al real­i­ty ther­a­py to treat ago­ra­pho­bic avoid­ance and dis­tress in patients with psy­chosis (gameChange): a mul­ti­cen­tre, par­al­lel-group, sin­gle-blind, ran­domised, con­trolled tri­al in Eng­land with medi­a­tion and mod­er­a­tion analy­ses (The Lancet). From the summary:

  • Back­ground: Auto­mat­ed deliv­ery of psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­a­py using immer­sive tech­nolo­gies such as vir­tu­al real­i­ty (VR) might great­ly increase the avail­abil­i­ty of effec­tive help for patients. We aimed to eval­u­ate the effi­ca­cy of an auto­mat­ed VR cog­ni­tive ther­a­py (gameChange) to treat avoid­ance and dis­tress in patients with psy­chosis, and to analyse how and in whom it might work.
  • Inter­pre­ta­tion: Auto­mat­ed VR ther­a­py led to sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tions in anx­ious avoid­ance of, and dis­tress in, every­day sit­u­a­tions com­pared with usu­al care alone. The medi­a­tion analy­sis indi­cat­ed that the VR ther­a­py worked in accor­dance with the cog­ni­tive mod­el by reduc­ing anx­ious thoughts and asso­ci­at­ed pro­tec­tive behav­iours. The mod­er­a­tion analy­sis indi­cat­ed that the VR ther­a­py par­tic­u­lar­ly ben­e­fit­ed patients with severe ago­ra­pho­bic avoid­ance, such as not being able to leave the home unac­com­pa­nied. gameChange VR ther­a­py has the poten­tial to increase the pro­vi­sion of effec­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­a­py for psy­chosis, par­tic­u­lar­ly for patients who find it dif­fi­cult to leave their home, vis­it local ameni­ties, or use pub­lic transport.

The Study in Context:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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