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The Design of Virtual Reality Applications for Psychological Interventions

Otkhmezuri, Boris (2020) The Design of Virtual Reality Applications for Psychological Interventions. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:81197)

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Virtual Reality is an emerging technology with a variety of potential benefits in research, assessment and treatment. The ability to create and control the dynamic 3-dimensional environments within which behavioural responses can be measured and recorded, allows this technology to offer ways of psychological assessment that traditional methods may not be capable of providing. Although plenty of research has been carried out to explore the use of VR in psychology, little was done to further the understanding of the processes of VR design. Considering the potential possibilities of VR in the area of psychological treatments, it is necessary to investigate how VR applications can be designed to meet the needs of psychologists, researchers and end-users. To achieve this, the use of co-design approach is recommended. It is also important to provide stakeholders with the co-design pipeline and technical guidelines on how to create these applications.In the first stage of the research, a series of case studies for pain management and anxiety disorders were carried out to investigate the design opportunities and challenges in the development of mobile VR psychotherapy applications. This includes the description of the development and design process of VR applications, as well as the tools and techniques used for it. Specifically, a mobile VR application for pain management research, where I took part as a designer/developer, and another mobile VR application for anxiety disorders were developed. A study was conducted to examine the innovative use of mobile VR technology to deliver a form of cognitive bias training for anxiety disorder. Forty-two students high in trait anxiety completed one session of either virtual reality cognitive bias modification of interpretations training (VR-CBM-I) or standard CBM-I training for performance anxiety. Overall, the results showed that based on post-training,the VR-CMB-I training reduced perceived anxiety significantly more than the standard CBM-I training. Moreover, the increase in anxiety response in the VRCMB-I training condition after the stressor task was also significantly less when compared to the standard training. Thus, there was a significant increase in positive interpretations and a significant decrease in negative interpretations in both conditions after the training. The results from this stage allowed to identify some key co-design phases as well as techniques and components needed for a successful mobile VR application development. In the second stage of the research, the more advanced system was developed. The use of Multi-User Virtual Reality (MUVR) as a tool to offer effective intervention for representative users at high-risk of eating disorder (ED) was explored. Fourteen females deemed at high risk of ED completed one session of either MUVR intervention based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or MUVR intervention based on Play Therapy (PT). The use of VR for remote psychotherapy was explored, and the impact of such intervention on both therapists and participants was observed. In addition, the design opportunities, pitfalls, and recommendations for future deployment in psychological interventions were presented. The findings from this thesis help extend the knowledge regarding the design, development and implementation of VR applications in psychotherapy. Contributions within the study can help psychologists, developers and researchers in identifying how these VR applications can be best designed and applied for psychological treatments. Additionally, these findings were formed into a set of3 guidelines to aid developers and psychologists in creating better VR applications to facilitate psychological interventions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Ang, Chee Siang
Uncontrolled keywords: Virtual Reality, Multi-User Virtual Reality Intervention, Pain management, Anxiety disorders, Eating Disorders, co-design
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QA Mathematics (inc Computing science) > QA 76 Software, computer programming, > QA76.76 Computer software > QA76.76.I59 Interactive media, hypermedia
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences > School of Engineering and Digital Arts
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 18 May 2020 09:03 UTC
Last Modified: 13 May 2022 11:29 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Otkhmezuri, Boris.

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