Cognitive-behavioral treatment and antidepressants combined with virtual reality exposure for patients with chronic agoraphobia

  1. Wenceslao Peñate Castro
  2. María José Roca Sánchez
  3. Carmen Teresa Pitti González
  4. Juan Manuel Bethencourt Pérez
  5. Juan Antonio de la Fuente Portero
  6. Ramón Gracia Marco
Journal:
International journal of clinical and health psychology

ISSN: 1697-2600

Year of publication: 2014

Volume: 14

Issue: 1

Pages: 9-17

Type: Article

Export: RIS
DOI: 10.1016/s1697-2600(14)70032-8 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR

Abstract

In this study we compared the efficacy of virtual reality exposure combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy (VRET) to that of traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) alone in reducing phobic symptoms in a sample of patients with long-term agoraphobia. The study was a between-subject design with three experimental conditions (VRET group, N = 30; CBT group, N = 30; and medication only group, N = 20) and repeated measures (pre-treatment, post-treatment, and six-month follow-up). All patients were receiving antidepressant medication. Results showed that all therapies were statistically effective both at post-treatment and six-month follow-up. The VRET group showed clinical improvement in most variables measured at follow-up. The CBT group showed the highest dropout rates. These results are discussed pointing out that VRET probably serves as an intermediate procedure for an efficient exposure to phobic stimuli. Besides describing the advantages of VRET for the treatment of agoraphobia symptoms in cost-benefit terms, the study also considered issues related to higher treatment adherence and motivation.

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