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Sep 17, 2006

Using VR as an assessment tool in schizofrenia

A Virtual Reality Apartment as a Measure of Medication Management Skills in Patients With Schizophrenia: A Pilot Study.

Schizophr Bull. 2006 Sep 6;

Authors: Kurtz MM, Baker E, Pearlson GD, Astur RS

Performance on a novel, virtual reality (VR) assessment of medication management skills, the Virtual Reality Apartment Medication Management Assessment (VRAMMA), was investigated in 25 patients with schizophrenia and 18 matched healthy controls. The VRAMMA is a virtual 4-room apartment consisting of a living room with an interactive clock and TV, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom with an interactive medicine cabinet. After an exploratory phase, participants were given a mock prescription regimen to be taken 15 minutes later from pill bottles located in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom of the virtual environment. The VRAMMA was administered with a validated measure of medication management skills, several neurocognitive tests, and a symptom scale. Results revealed that (1) schizophrenic patients made significantly more quantitative errors in the number of pills taken, were less accurate at taking the prescribed medications at the designated time, and checked the interactive clock less frequently than healthy controls; (2) in patients with schizophrenia, there was significant agreement in classification of adherence vs nonadherence between a validated measure of medication management skills and the VRAMMA; and (3) in patients with schizophrenia, years of education and a measure of verbal learning and memory were linked to quantitative errors on the VRAMMA, while positive symptoms, specifically delusional symptoms, were inversely linked to distance traveled within the VRAMMA. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to provide evidence for the utility of VR technology in the assessment of instrumental role functioning in patients with schizophrenia.

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