Virtual reality exposure therapy for anxiety: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

The authors set out to examine trials of virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) for anxiety-related disorders using the following databases: PsychINFO 1840–2018, MEDLINE 1966–2018, and the CochraneCentral Register of Controlled Trials until 2018.They performed a literature search for randomized controlled trials of VRET versus control or in vivo exposure and identified 30 VRET trials with a total number of 1057 participants. These studies were divided into 14 for specific phobias, 8 for SAD or performance anxiety, 5 for PTSD, and 3 for PD. This meta-analysis showed that VRET had a large effect size compared to waitlist* conditions and a medium to large effect size compared to psychological controls.VRET was also found to be comparable in terms of effectiveness with ‘in vivo’ exposure.The authors concluded that:“In cases where VRET is preferable or more accessible, VRET can be considered an acceptable and efficacious alternative to in vivo exposure for the treatment of anxiety-related disorders.”Find out more and download a free copy of the paper here.*Note:A wait list control group, also called a wait list comparison, is a group of participants included in an outcome study that is assigned to a waiting list and receives the intervention after the active treatment group. This control group serves as an untreated comparison group during the study but eventually goes on to receive treatment at a later date. Wait list control groups are often used when it would be unethical to deny participants access to treatment, provided the wait is still shorter than that for routine servicesebook virtual reality