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

Robert N. McLay, Dennis P. Wood, Jennifer A. Webb-Murphy, James L. Spira, Mark D. Wiederhold, Jeffrey M. Pyne, Brenda K. Wiederhold
2011 Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking  
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
more » ... rovement 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 (w 2 ¼ 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.
doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0003 pmid:21332375 fatcat:cowrszlkn5hxrd2hi45gvuk5jm