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15-11-2016 | Brief Report | Uitgave 2/2017

Cognitive Therapy and Research 2/2017

Virtual Reality and Exposure Group Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder: Results from a 4–6 Year Follow-Up

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 2/2017
Page L. Anderson, Shannan M. Edwards, Jessica R. Goodnight
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This work was based in part on the dissertation of Shannan M. Edwards.


This is the first long-term follow-up study of virtual reality exposure therapy and exposure group therapy for social anxiety disorder—completed 6 years, on average, after treatment completion. Participants (N = 28) had a clinical diagnosis of social anxiety disorder that included public speaking fears and had previously completed 8 sessions of either virtual reality exposure therapy or exposure group therapy delivered according to a treatment manual. The final sample was ethnically diverse, middle-aged (mean age = 42 years) and mostly female (71%). Participants completed standardized self-report measures of public speaking anxiety and fear of negative evaluation, a behavioral speech task, a diagnostic interview, and ratings of global improvement. Participants showed statistically significant improvement on all self-report measures from pre-treatment to follow-up. All participants completed the speech task, with two exceptions: one participant declined to do the speech task and one person completed the follow-up assessment by phone. The majority of participants no longer met diagnostic criteria for the disorder (54%) and reported themselves “very much” or “much” improved (68%). With one exception, there were no differences between treatments at follow-up across self-report, clinician-rated, and behavioral data. Virtual reality exposure therapy and exposure group therapy for social anxiety disorder produce long-lasting benefits, consistent with research on a variety of forms of short-term cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder.

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