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05.05.2020 | Review Paper Open Access

Lack of research on efficacy of virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents

A systematic review

Mag. Dr. Oswald D. Kothgassner, Mag. Dr. Anna Felnhofer
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Anxiety disorders are one of the most prevalent mental disorders in children and adolescents which may effectively be treated by several forms of exposure therapy. An emerging approach to exposure is virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), but a literature search synthesis focusing specifically on the use of VRET in children and adolescents is still lacking. This systematic review sets out to provide an overview concerning VRET for the treatment of anxiety disorders in this age group. Four published trials covering an overall sample of 100 participants between the ages of 8 and 16 years were found during a systematic literature search and were included in the current review. Results reveal that participants show clinical improvements regarding anxiety symptoms after VRET. Nevertheless, the high potential of virtual reality as a tool for treating children and adolescents with anxiety disorders is contrasted by a considerable lack of controlled trials. Despite the evidence of VRET in adult samples, there is a need for more research with younger cohorts in order to be able to support this promising field of application.

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