Automated VR therapy for improving positive self-beliefs and psychological well-being in young patients with psychosis: a proof of concept evaluation of Phoenix VR self-confidence therapy.
Freeman D., Freeman J., Ahmed M., Haynes P., Beckwith H., Rovira A., Lages Miguel A., Ward R., Bousfield M., Riffiod L., Kabir T., Waite F., Rosebrock L.
BACKGROUND: Low self-confidence in patients with psychosis is common. This can lead to higher symptom severity, withdrawal from activities, and low psychological well-being. There are effective psychological techniques to improve positive self-beliefs but these are seldom provided in psychosis services. With young people with lived experience of psychosis we developed a scalable automated VR therapy to enhance positive-self beliefs. AIMS: The aim was to conduct a proof of concept clinical test of whether the new VR self-confidence therapy (Phoenix) may increase positive self-beliefs and psychological well-being. METHOD: Twelve young patients with non-affective psychosis and with low levels of positive self-beliefs participated. Over 6 weeks, patients were provided with a stand-alone VR headset so that they could use Phoenix at home and were offered weekly psychologist meetings. The outcome measures were the Oxford Positive Self Scale (OxPos), Brief Core Schema Scale, and Warwick-Edinburgh Well-being Scale (WEMWBS). Satisfaction, adverse events and side-effects were assessed. RESULTS: Eleven patients provided outcome data. There were very large end-of-treatment improvements in positive self-beliefs (OxPos mean difference = 32.3; 95% CI: 17.3, 47.3; Cohen's d=3.0) and psychological well-being (WEMWBS mean difference = 11.2; 95% CI: 8.0, 14.3; Cohen's d=1.5). Patients rated the quality of the VR therapy as: excellent (n=9), good (n=2), fair (n=0), poor (n=0). An average of 5.3 (SD=1.4) appointments were attended. CONCLUSIONS: Uptake of the VR intervention was high, satisfaction was high, and side-effects extremely few. There were promising indications of large improvements in positive self-beliefs and psychological well-being. A randomized controlled clinical evaluation is warranted.