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Effectiveness of a smartphone-based, augmented reality exposure app to reduce fear of spiders in real-life: A randomized controlled trial

Zimmer, Anja and Wang, Nan and Ibach, Merle K. and Fehlmann, Bernhard and Schicktanz, Nathalie S. and Bentz, Dorothée and Michael, Tanja and Papassotiropoulos, Andreas and de Quervain, Dominique J. F.. (2021) Effectiveness of a smartphone-based, augmented reality exposure app to reduce fear of spiders in real-life: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of anxiety disorders, 82. p. 102442.

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Abstract

Although in vivo exposure therapy is highly effective in the treatment of specific phobias, only a minority of patients seeks therapy. Exposure to virtual objects has been shown to be better tolerated, equally efficacious, but the technology has not been made widely accessible yet. We developed an augmented reality (AR) application (app) to reduce fear of spiders and performed a randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of our app (six 30-min sessions at home over a two-week period) with no intervention. Primary outcome was subjective fear, measured by a Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) in a Behavioural Approach Test (BAT) in a real-life spider situation at six weeks follow-up. Between Oct 7, 2019, and Dec 6, 2019, 66 individuals were enrolled and randomized. The intervention led to significantly lower subjective fear in the BAT compared to the control group (intervention group, baseline: 7.12 [SD 2.03] follow-up: 5.03 [SD 2.19] vs. control group, baseline: 7.06 [SD 2.34], follow-up 6.24 [SD 2.21]; adjusted group difference -1.24, 95 % CI -2.17 to -0.31; Cohen's d = 0.57, p = 0.010). The repeated use of the AR app reduces subjective fear in a real-life spider situation, providing a low-threshold and low-cost treatment for fear of spiders.
Faculties and Departments:03 Faculty of Medicine > Bereich Psychiatrie (Klinik) > Erwachsenenpsychiatrie UPK > Molekulare Neurowissenschaften (Papassotiropoulos)
03 Faculty of Medicine > Departement Klinische Forschung > Bereich Psychiatrie (Klinik) > Erwachsenenpsychiatrie UPK > Molekulare Neurowissenschaften (Papassotiropoulos)
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Biozentrum > Services Biozentrum > Life Sciences Training Facility (Papassotiropoulos)
07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Forschungsbereich Klinische Psychologie und Neurowissenschaften > Molecular Neuroscience (Papassotiropoulos)
UniBasel Contributors:Papassotiropoulos, Andreas
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0887-6185
e-ISSN:1873-7897
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:02 Mar 2022 15:48
Deposited On:02 Mar 2022 15:48

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