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Aug 17, 2006

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy: 150-Degree Screen to Desktop PC

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy: 150-Degree Screen to Desktop PC.

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2006 Aug;9(4):480-9

Authors: Tichon J, Banks J

Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) developed using immersive or semi-immersive virtual environments present a usability problem for practitioners. To meet practitioner requirements for lower cost and portability VRET programs must often be ported onto desktop environments such as the personal computer (PC). However, success of VRET has been shown to be linked to presence, and the environment's ability to evoke the same reactions and emotions as a real experience. It is generally accepted that high-end virtual environments (VEs) are more immersive than desktop PCs, but level of immersion does not always predict level of presence. This paper reports on the impact on presence of porting a therapeutic VR application for Schizophrenia from the initial research environment of a semi-immersive curved screen to PC. Presence in these two environments is measured both introspectively and across a number of causal factors thought to underlie the experience of presence. Results show that the VR exposure program successfully made users feel they were "present" in both platforms. While the desktop PC achieved higher scores on presence across causal factors participants reported they felt more present in the curved screen environment. While comparison of the two groups was statistically significant for the PQ but not for the IPQ, subjective reports of experiences in the environments should be considered in future research as the success of VRET relies heavily on the emotional response of patients to the therapeutic program.

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