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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

STUDY PROTOCOL: EXPOSURE IN VIRTUAL REALITY FOR SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER - a randomized controlled superiority trial comparing cognitive behavioral therapy with virtual reality based exposure to cognitive behavioral therapy with in vivo exposure

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BACKGROUND: Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by an intense fear of negative judgement by others. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is recommended for treatment, but a substantial part of individuals with SAD either do not seek treatment or drop-out. CBT with Virtual Reality (VR)-based exposure has several advantages compared to traditional exposure methods, mainly due to increased control of situational elements. The aim of the current study is to develop a CBT program containing VR-based exposure. The intervention is targeted to adult patients suffering from SAD and treatment effect will be assessed by changes in SAD symptoms.

METHODS: This article describes the study protocol of a Randomized Controlled Trial with three arms: 1) CBT with VR exposure based on 360° videos 2) CBT with in vivo exposure and 3) VR relaxation therapy. There will be 30 participants in each arm with a crossover at the end of the treatment period during which the participants in the third group will be randomly re-allocated to one of the two former groups. The treatment program consists of 10 weekly individual sessions with a psychologist, and a six month follow-up consisting of a questionnaire. The primary outcome measure is reduction in SAD symptoms which will be assessed with the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS).

DISCUSSION: There are currently no published studies on CBT with VR exposure based on 360° videos for SAD treatment. Furthermore, the current study will be the first Danish SAD treatment program that includes VR technology.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: (NCT03973541) June 3rd 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2020

ID: 59202994