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Does Virtual Reality Increase Simulator Sickness During Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Does Virtual Reality Increase Simulator Sickness During Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Does Virtual Reality Increase Simulator Sickness During Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Telemed J E Health. 2018 Oct 31;:

Authors: Reger GM, Smolenski D, Edwards-Stewart A, Skopp NA, Rizzo AS, Norr A

Abstract
PURPOSE: Measurement of simulator-related side effects (SSEs) is an integral component of competent and ethical use of virtual reality exposure (VRE), but common SSEs may overlap with symptoms of anxiety. Limited research exists about the frequency of SSEs during VRE treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and no research compares self-reported SSEs for those undergoing VRE with those participating in exposure therapy without virtual reality. This study compared the SSEs of active duty soldiers with PTSD randomly assigned to exposure therapy through traditional prolonged exposure or VRE.
METHODOLOGY: A total of 108 soldiers participated in up to 10 sessions of exposure therapy. Of those, 93 provided data on simulator sickness both before and after initiation of imaginal exposure. Approximately half (n = 49) used the Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan system to support engagement with their trauma memory. Soldiers completed a 4-item, self-reported measure of SSE after each session.
RESULTS: Controlling for age, gender, baseline anxiety symptoms, and SSE symptom counts at the first two sessions of therapy (before initiating imaginal exposure), there was no statistically significant difference between the treatment groups in SSEs at the beginning of imaginal exposure or over the course of treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: This finding suggests that caution should be exercised in the interpretation of SSE measurements during the use of VRE for PTSD. Virtual reality did not account for any increase in self-reported SSE. It is possible that anxiety accounts for a meaningful proportion of SSE reports during VRE.

PMID: 30379634 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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