360° Video Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Public Speaking Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Rachel Reeves, Adam Elliott, David Curran, Kevin Dyer, Donncha Hanna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Public speaking anxiety (PSA) is a prevalent condition which is highly interrelated with social anxiety. PSA can be effectively treated with exposure therapy. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) is increasingly being explored as a novel and cost-effective mode of treatment. No previous randomized controlled trial has examined whether stand-alone 360° video VRET is an effective intervention for treating PSA and interrelated disorder relevant fears. Further, studies have not explored whether 360° video content influences VRET outcomes. Participants with high PSA (n = 51) were randomly allocated to: 360° video VRET incorporating stimuli of audiences (360°Audience) (n = 17), 360° video VRET incorporating stimuli of empty rooms (360°Empty) (n = 16) and no treatment control (n = 18). Outcomes were measured over five time-points. Mixed ANOVA revealed a significant interaction between time and intervention group for PSA, social anxiety and fear of negative evaluation (FNE). Within-group analysis demonstrated there was a significant pre-intervention to post-intervention reduction across measures for both 360° video VRET groups: PSA 360°Audience ( p2 = .90, p<.001), 360°Empty ( p2 = .71, p < .001); social anxiety 360°Audience ( p2 = .49, p=.002), 360°Empty ( p2 = .39, p = .009); FNE 360°Audience ( p2 = .59, p<.001), 360°Empty ( p2 = .43, p = .006). Active intervention participants showed significant improvement from pre-intervention to 10-week follow-up on all measures. Findings illustrate that 360° video VRET is an efficacious way to significantly reduce PSA, social anxiety and FNE.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102451
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume83
Early online date09 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 09 Jul 2021

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