The effect of virtual reality on the relapse frequency of patients after/during clinical detoxificat
The world around us is rapidly changing. Since the introduction of the worldwide web, the internet, the use of desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones the world for consumers is getting smaller and more close.
The effect what we see is tremendous. In the Netherlands the penetration of smartphones is 95 % as in the USA (Torous et al., 2014). This development gives great opportunity to bring the world of e-health close by. New additional treatment technical adjuvants are developed and again it will give tremendous benefits for consumers. One new adjuvant is Virtual Reality (VR). VR applications, also in Health domains, are developed in rapid pace and seem to become mainstream soon (van Gisbergen, 2015).
Patients in the field of addiction often have difficulty to stay relapse free at home after clinical detoxification. The challenge is that they are not ready enough, or feel confident, to fight their relapses at home even after detoxification. As such they feel afraid for those environments that trigger addiction. The ideal situation would be to bring those contexts to the clinic. These situations often deal with contexts that are difficult to simulate in clinics. However, new VR technologies seem able to do that.
VR is a mediated perception of being present and immersed in an environment (Steuer, 1992). This mediated environment can be animated or recorded using 360o cameras. A combination of sensory, interaction, control and location dimensions are expected to increase a sense of ‘being in that environment’ (Van Gisbergen, 2016). As such, VR seems to be a promising medium for addiction treatment as, compared to other media, it may turn clients from audiences to witnesses, and even from witnesses into active participants (Aronson-Rath, Milward, Owen, & Pitt, 2016; Van Gisbergen, 2016).
Treatment plans using VR to focus on how to keep control over their lives and relapse triggers, will help them to hold control. Development of personalized and neutral (positive and negative) virtual environments to practice their difficulty dealing with addiction context sensitive environments, might strengthen them to stay relapse free.
N-K, Center for Addiction in Brabant and NHTV, Academy for Digital Entertainment, started a collaboration to study the effect of the use of VR-environments in the field of addiction. In the last part of the (alcohol) detoxification process patients will receive a therapy with the aim to prevent relapse after detoxification. Different conditions will be presented: cognitive behavior therapy, Virtual Reality animated world and 360 photography. This research is to study the added value of these newly developed virtual environments as an adjuvant to the available EMB treatment interventions.
The study will be executed by an 6th year medical student for their scientific project available from September-December 2018. Medical students interested in a combination of technic and medicine, are especially invited.
The student will participate under leadership and supervision of Dr. Victor J.A. Buwalda, psychiatrist, and medical director of Novadic-Kentron; and of Dr. Gerdien de Weert, senior researcher, in cooperation with the University Medical Center of Utrecht, Julius Center, Public Health Department, Dr. L. van Rossem and collaboration with the NHTV with Dr. Marnix van Gisbergen.
The scientific project will result in a paper written in English. After completion of the project, the possibility and conditions of submitting the paper will be discussed.