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The acceptance of virtual reality exposure therapy by mental healthcare patients: A scoping review

Spelt, N. (2021) The acceptance of virtual reality exposure therapy by mental healthcare patients: A scoping review.

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Abstract:Introduction: The use of technology in mental healthcare has been gaining more recognition over the past years. This review focuses on the technology virtual reality (VR), that can be used during exposure therapy. When VR is added to exposure therapy it is called virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET). This type of therapy can be used on patients with anxiety- and trauma- and stressor related disorders. The acceptance of this type of therapy has not been explored yet and therefore the aim of this scoping review is to find out what the main findings are about this topic that can be found in scientific literature. Methods: Articles were searched using three different databases: Scopus, Web of Science and psycINFO (EBSCO). The snowballing method has also been used to search for relevant literature. Eleven studies were included in this review after an extensive screening process. The studies were analyzed to explore what type of mental health problems were being treated, what type of VR was used in the study (immersive, semi-immersive or non-immersive), what measurement instruments the studies used to assess acceptance and what the acceptance of VRET was according to patients. Results: The data from the selected studies was summarized and presented in tables. Seven out of eleven studies used a sample of patients with some type of anxiety disorder (e.g. fear of flying, spider phobia and panic disorder). Six studies used an immersive type of VR in their study using an HMD. Three used a semi-immersive VR system and only one study used non-immersive VR. Seven studies used a quantitative research method, where two used mixed methods and two used a qualitative approach. The expectation and satisfaction questionnaire, CSQ-8 and the SUS were used as quantitative measurements. Qualitative measurements included opinion sheets and interviews. All studies using a questionnaire showed a high level of acceptance of VRET. The qualitative data showed that patients experienced positive effects from the VR treatment. Discussion: The results from quantitative measurements of VRET acceptance are in line with similar research from different kind of patient groups. The way acceptance is measured may need some improvement according to research due to the complexity of the concept. Future research would be advised to develop a dimensional measurement instrument on VR acceptance by patients. This review showed that patients seem to accept VRET as a treatment, however research about other factors that influence the adoption of VR in the mental healthcare still needs to be done in order to bring VRET into clinical practice.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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