The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry | 14 Jul 2012
E Malbos, RM Rapee and M Kavakli
Objectives: Past controlled clinical trials centred on virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) for agoraphobia mostly used multicomponent therapy with success. However, the present paper aimed to evaluate the independent effect of VRET for agoraphobia. Methods: A controlled study involving 18 agoraphobic participants assigned to two groups: VRET only and VRET with cognitive therapy. Nine specific virtual environments were developed using an affordable game level editor. Results: Questionnaires, behavioural tests and physiological measures indicated a positive effect of VRET. Correlations supported the predictive value of presence towards treatment outcome. The addition of cognitive therapy did not provide significant additional benefit. Conclusions: Overall, the isolated effects of VRET did not seem to be significantly less than the effects of VRET combined with cognitive therapy. Future research should explore the use of other components in addition to cognitive therapy and VRET for agoraphobia as well as its possible use in patients' homes.
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