Piloting Virtual Reality Environments to Treat PTSD in Healthcare Workers and Patients Consequent to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Healthcare workers and COVID-19 patients may experience psychological distress consequent to the pandemic, and are at particularly elevated risk for experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), based on evidence from previous infectious disease outbreaks.

The best-validated treatment for PTSD is exposure therapy. Exposure therapy help patients suffering from PTSD to revisit and overcome their traumatic experiences. Including virtual reality in exposure therapy has a long history in treating PTSD; and has been used to treat military veterans and first-responders following 9/11.

The investigators, Dr. Difede and her team, are developing and testing a virtual reality platform to be used in treating healthcare workers and COVID-19 patients who develop PTSD resulting from their experiences in the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants will complete ten ninety minute sessions, twice a week for five weeks aimed at mitigating their symptoms of PTSD. The pilot study will aim to demonstrate the feasibility and the tolerability of the virtual reality intervention in these populations.

ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04887116

WCM IRB #: 20-04021926

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