Virtual reality exposure therapy for adults with post-traumatic stress disorder : a review of the clinical effectiveness

Of the psychological therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is considered to be a first-line therapy for PTSD based on strong evidence of effectiveness from clinical trials. CBT may involve multiple therapy approaches, including elements of cognitive therapy, development of coping skills, an...

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Corporate Author: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
Format: eBook
Language:English
Published: [Ottawa, Ont.] Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health 2014, 28 August 2014
Series:Rapid response report: summary with critical appraisal
Subjects:
Online Access:
Collection: National Center for Biotechnology Information - Collection details see MPG.ReNa
Summary:Of the psychological therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is considered to be a first-line therapy for PTSD based on strong evidence of effectiveness from clinical trials. CBT may involve multiple therapy approaches, including elements of cognitive therapy, development of coping skills, and exposure therapy. Exposure therapy in particular refers to a method by which patients repeatedly confront memories or reminders of trauma in a safe and controlled environment in order to gradually reduce the distress associated with them. Imaginal exposure therapy focuses on patients revisiting the event in their minds, in vivo exposure employs real-life trauma reminders, and prolonged exposure (PE) combines both types of exposure therapy. A recent expansion on traditional exposure therapy, virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) creates an immersive and interactive virtual environment through the use of computer graphics and auditory cues to enhance a patient's imaginative capacities.
The virtual environment is often presented via a head-mounted display and can be manipulated by the therapist or patient as necessary. Since engagement in imaginal exposure can be hindered by the avoidance behaviour that is characteristic of PTSD, VRET's use of multiple sensory prompts to assist recall of trauma and immersion has been suggested as an enhancement of conventional exposure therapy. However, VRET is a relatively recent development in the field and uncertainty remains about its clinical effectiveness. The purpose of this report is to examine the clinical effectiveness of VRET for the treatment of PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic psychiatric condition that develops following an exceptionally traumatic event. Core symptoms of PTSD include re-experiencing the trauma (for example, through flashbacks and nightmares), avoidance of reminders of trauma, and hyperarousal (for example, feeling irritable or angry, startling easily, or experiencing difficulty sleeping or concentrating). Lifetime prevalence rates of PTSD have been estimated as 9.2% in Canada and ranging from 6.8% to 12.3% in the United States. Certain groups of people, such as those exposed to military combat, are at a higher risk of developing PTSD; lifetime prevalence of PTSD in Vietnam war veterans has been reported at 18.7%, and up to 18% of Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans have experienced PTSD. Treatments for PTSD include pharmacotherapy and psychological therapy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the most common choice for PTSD pharmacotherapy.
Item Description:Title from PDF caption title. - "CADTH Rapid Response Service."
Physical Description:1 PDF file (13 pages) illustrations