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Effectiveness of a stand-alone, smartphone-based virtual reality exposure app to reduce fear of heights in real-life: a randomized trial

Bentz, Dorothée and Wang, Nan and Ibach, Merle K. and Schicktanz, Nathalie S. and Zimmer, Anja and Papassotiropoulos, Andreas and de Quervain, Dominique J. F.. (2021) Effectiveness of a stand-alone, smartphone-based virtual reality exposure app to reduce fear of heights in real-life: a randomized trial. NPJ digital medicine, 4 (1). p. 16.

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Abstract

Smartphone-based virtual reality (VR) applications (apps) might help to counter low utilization rates of available treatments for fear of heights. Demonstration of effectiveness in real-life situations of such apps is crucial, but lacking so far. Objective of this study was to develop a stand-alone, smartphone-based VR exposure app-Easy Heights-and to test its effectiveness in a real-life situation. We performed a single-blind, parallel group, randomized controlled trial. We recruited 70 participants with fear of heights, aged 18-60 years. Primary outcome was performance in a real-life Behavioral Avoidance Test (BAT) on a lookout tower after a single 1-h app use (phase 1) and after additional repeated (6 × 30 min) app use at home (phase 2). After phase 2, but not phase 1, participants in the Easy Heights condition showed significantly higher BAT scores compared to participants in the control condition (Cohen's d = 1.3, p = 0.0001). Repeated use of our stand-alone, smartphone-based VR exposure app reduces avoidance behavior and fear, providing a low-threshold treatment for fear of heights.
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:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2398-6352
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:02 Mar 2022 15:28
Deposited On:02 Mar 2022 15:26

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