Researchers and clinicians have recently begun using Virtual Reality (VR) to create immersive and interactive cue exposure paradigms. The current study aimed to assess the effectiveness of individual cue exposure therapy (CET), using smoking-related VR cues (smoking-VR) as a smoking cessation treatment compared to a placebo-VR (neutral cue) treatment. The sample consisted of healthy treatment-seeking cigarette smokers, who underwent bi-weekly cognitive behavioral group therapy (CBT) plus either smoking-VR CET or placebo-VR CET (random assignment). Smoking-VR CET participants had a higher quit rate than placebo-VR CET participants (P = 0.015). Smoking-VR CET treated participants also reported smoking significantly fewer cigarettes per day at the end of treatment than placebo-VR CET treated participants (P = 0.034). These data indicate that smoking-related VR CET may prove useful in enhancing the efficacy of CBT treatment for tobacco dependence.
Keywords: Cognitive-behavioral Therapy; Nicotine; Smoking Cessation; Tobacco Dependence; Virtual Reality.