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A randomized, controlled trial of virtual reality-graded exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in active duty service members with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

Authors
  • McLay, Robert N1
  • Wood, Dennis P
  • Webb-Murphy, Jennifer A
  • Spira, James L
  • Wiederhold, Mark D
  • Pyne, Jeffrey M
  • Wiederhold, Brenda K
  • 1 Department of Mental Health, Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, California 92134, USA. [email protected]
Type
Published Article
Journal
Cyberpsychology Behavior and Social Networking
Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2011
Volume
14
Issue
4
Pages
223–229
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0003
PMID: 21332375
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Abstract Virtual reality (VR)-based therapy has emerged as a potentially useful means to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but randomized studies have been lacking for Service Members from Iraq or Afghanistan. This study documents a small, randomized, controlled trial of VR-graded exposure therapy (VR-GET) versus treatment as usual (TAU) for PTSD in Active Duty military personnel with combat-related PTSD. Success was gauged according to whether treatment resulted in a 30 percent or greater improvement in the PTSD symptom severity as assessed by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) after 10 weeks of treatment. Seven of 10 participants improved by 30 percent or greater while in VR-GET, whereas only 1 of the 9 returning participants in TAU showed similar improvement. This is a clinically and statistically significant result (χ(2) = 6.74, p < 0.01, relative risk 3.2). Participants in VR-GET improved an average of 35 points on the CAPS, whereas those in TAU averaged a 9-point improvement (p < 0.05). The results are limited by small size, lack of blinding, a single therapist, and comparison to a relatively uncontrolled usual care condition, but did show VR-GET to be a safe and effective treatment for combat-related PTSD.

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