The role played by the concept of presence in validating the efficacy of a cybertherapy treatment: a literature review
The current study is a preliminary test of a virtual reality (VR) anxiety-provoking tool using a sample of participants with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The tasks were administrated to 33 participants with OCD and 30 healthy control participants. In the VR task, participants navigated through a virtual environment using a joystick and head-mounted display. The virtual environment consisted of three phases: training, distraction, and the main task. After the training and distraction phases, participants were allowed to check (a common OCD behavior) freely, as they would in the real world, and a visual analogy scale of anxiety was recorded during VR. Participants' anxiety in the virtual environment was measured with a validated measure of psychiatric symptoms and functions and analyzed with a VR questionnaire. Results revealed that those with OCD had significantly higher anxiety in the virtual environment than did healthy controls, and the decreased ratio of anxiety in participants with OCD was also higher than that of healthy controls. Moreover, the degree of anxiety of an individual with OCD was positively correlated with a his or her symptom score and immersive tendency score. These results suggest the possibility that VR technology has a value as an anxiety-provoking or treatment tool for OCD.