Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Vietnam Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(8):617-622
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Background: Virtual reality (VR) integrates
real-time computer graphics, body-tracking devices, visual
displays, and other sensory input devices to immerse a
participant in a computer-generated virtual environment that
changes in a natural way with head and body motion. VR exposure
(VRE) is proposed as an alternative to typical imaginal exposure
treatment for Vietnam combat veterans with posttraumatic stress
Method: This report presents the results of an
open clinical trial using VRE to treat Vietnam combat veterans
who have DSM-IV PTSD. In 8 to 16 sessions, 10 male patients were
exposed to 2 virtual environments: a virtual Huey helicopter
flying over a virtual Vietnam and a clearing surrounded by
Results: Clinician-rated PTSD symptoms as
measured by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, the primary
outcome measure, at 6-month follow-up indicated an overall
statistically significant reduction from baseline (p = .0021) in
symptoms associated with specific reported traumatic experiences.
All 8 participants interviewed at the 6-month follow-up reported
reductions in PTSD symptoms ranging from 15% to 67%. Significant
decreases were seen in all 3 symptom clusters (p < .02).
Patient self-reported intrusion symptoms as measured by the
Impact of Event Scale were significantly lower (p < .05) at 3
months than at baseline but not at 6 months, although there was a
clear trend toward fewer intrusive thoughts and somewhat less
Conclusion: Virtual reality exposure therapy
holds promise for treating PTSD in Vietnam veterans.