Presentation Title

The Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Treatment of Specific Phobias: A Meta-Analysis

Faculty Mentor

Giovanni Sosa

Start Date

23-11-2019 9:45 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 10:00 AM

Location

Markstein 308

Session

oral 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Implementing virtual reality as a tool for exposure therapy has gained much attention in psychology over the past few decades. Now that the technology is advancing and becoming more financially attainable, researchers are studying how virtual reality can be used to treat those suffering from specific phobias in a clinical setting. Several studies have examined the effect of using virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) in specific phobias, though the methodology employed between researchers has varied. The purpose of our investigation was therefore to conduct a meta-analysis to generate an effect size estimate that illustrates the impact of using this technology in exposure therapy for specific phobias relative to a comparison group not employing virtual reality technology. Further, we aimed to identify moderator variables to account for the variability across the observed effects.

We analyzed studies that examined fear of flying, fear of spiders, fear of heights, and claustrophobia due to literature availability. A multitude of VR systems were used across studies over the span of 26 years, and none were excluded based on hardware or software specifications. Most software used were created exclusively for the study, or were purchased from a private company. Inclusion criteria included: between-subjects methodology, all participants had to be phobic, no participant comorbidity, no use of psychotropic medications, participants otherwise in good cognitive and physical health, and study had to utilize some form of virtual reality (HMD, CAVE, etc.).

Our preliminary findings indicated a mean effect size (d) of 1.02, demonstrating that the use of VRET yields a significant decrease in phobic symptoms. Therefore, there are clear implications for psychologists who utilize VRET in the treatment of specific phobia symptoms, especially since relative to in vivo exposure therapy, VRET offers greater accessibility to feared stimuli (e.g., flying on an airplane) and generally results in a lower participant drop-out rate.

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Nov 23rd, 9:45 AM Nov 23rd, 10:00 AM

The Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Treatment of Specific Phobias: A Meta-Analysis

Markstein 308

Implementing virtual reality as a tool for exposure therapy has gained much attention in psychology over the past few decades. Now that the technology is advancing and becoming more financially attainable, researchers are studying how virtual reality can be used to treat those suffering from specific phobias in a clinical setting. Several studies have examined the effect of using virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) in specific phobias, though the methodology employed between researchers has varied. The purpose of our investigation was therefore to conduct a meta-analysis to generate an effect size estimate that illustrates the impact of using this technology in exposure therapy for specific phobias relative to a comparison group not employing virtual reality technology. Further, we aimed to identify moderator variables to account for the variability across the observed effects.

We analyzed studies that examined fear of flying, fear of spiders, fear of heights, and claustrophobia due to literature availability. A multitude of VR systems were used across studies over the span of 26 years, and none were excluded based on hardware or software specifications. Most software used were created exclusively for the study, or were purchased from a private company. Inclusion criteria included: between-subjects methodology, all participants had to be phobic, no participant comorbidity, no use of psychotropic medications, participants otherwise in good cognitive and physical health, and study had to utilize some form of virtual reality (HMD, CAVE, etc.).

Our preliminary findings indicated a mean effect size (d) of 1.02, demonstrating that the use of VRET yields a significant decrease in phobic symptoms. Therefore, there are clear implications for psychologists who utilize VRET in the treatment of specific phobia symptoms, especially since relative to in vivo exposure therapy, VRET offers greater accessibility to feared stimuli (e.g., flying on an airplane) and generally results in a lower participant drop-out rate.