The Effect of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality on Inducing Anxiety for Exposure Therapy: A Comparison Using Heart Rate Variability

Chai Fen Tsai, Shih Ching Yeh, Yanyan Huang, Zhengyu Wu, Jianjun Cui, Lirong Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by the fear of enclosed spaces. Although medication treatment can effectively control symptoms, the effects quickly disappear once medication is discontinued. Many studies have shown that combining psychotherapy and medication is more efficacious than solely using medication. However, the weaknesses of the traditional psychotherapy are that it is time-consuming and expensive. Alternatively, vivo exposure therapy is proposed in which anxiety is gradually triggered with stimuli. Targeting claustrophobia is diagnosed using the traditional method, and this study established virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) environments consistent with claustrophobic characteristics, comparing the two using an experimental process to examine whether VR and AR environments are equally capable of triggering anxiety in participants. This study further analysed the efficacies of VR and AR by measuring changes in participant's heart rates variability (HRV) and examining data from survey questionnaires. HRV results indicated that the proposed VR system and AR system were both able to trigger anxiety. Furthermore, the AR environment produced a stronger experience for the participants and caused physiological reactions more evident than those caused by the VR environment. Regarding the anxiety questionnaire, the participants suggested that their anxiety was significantly higher in the VR environment than in the AR environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6357351
JournalJournal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume2018
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

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