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Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2013 Apr;16(4):293-301. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2013.1504.

Veteran perceptions of virtual reality to assess and treat posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Psychiatric Research Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


Implementation of evidence-based treatments (EBT) is necessary to address posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) military service personnel. Because virtual reality (VR) offers a promising tool for delivery of one type of EBT--exposure therapy--this study explored veterans' perceptions of VR as an assessment tool and treatment adjunct. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 OEF/OIF veterans being treated for PTSD after viewing two 3 minute VR scenarios as part of a larger research study. Veterans reported a capacity for immersion in VR in both combat and civilian environments, characterized by self-reported physiological reactivity, thoughts/behaviors similar to those experienced in Iraq, and triggered memories. Although participants were generally positive about VR, they expressed concerns about the possibility of negative reactions after viewing VR. Findings are discussed in the context of further development of VR aided interventions in veteran healthcare systems.

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