A randomized, controlled clinical trial of in virtuo and in vivo exposure for spider phobia

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2010 Dec;13(6):689-95. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2009.0277. Epub 2010 May 3.


The present study compared the efficacy of virtual reality (VR) in virtuo exposure and in vivo exposure in the treatment of spider phobia. Two treatment conditions were compared to a waiting-list condition. A 3-month follow-up evaluation was conducted in order to assess the durability of the treatment effects. Participants were randomly assigned to the treatment groups. A total of 16 participants received the in virtuo treatment, and 16 received the in vivo treatment. The waiting-list condition included 11 participants. Participants received eight 1.5-hour treatment sessions. Efficacy was measured with the Fear of Spiders Questionnaire, the Spider Beliefs Questionnaire (SBQ-F), and a Behavioral Avoidance Test (BAT). In addition, a clinician administered the Structured Interview for DSM-IV to assess DSM-IV's criteria for specific phobia and severity. Clinical and statistically significant improvements were found for both groups. Differences in treatment groups were found on one of five measures of fear: greater improvement on the SBQ-F beliefs subscale was associated with in vivo exposure.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Implosive Therapy / methods*
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spiders
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • User-Computer Interface*