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Bevan Exemplar Cohort 7 Projects

Exploring Virtual Reality Masks and Mindfulness skills training as a psychological intervention for military veterans: A Pilot Study

Vanessa Bailey

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Virtual Reality (VR) has a growing evidence base for efficacy in treating mental health difficulties such as generalised anxiety disorder (Gorini et al., 2010, Valmaggia et al., 2016). VR is also being researched as a means to deliver mindfulness skills training for 10 minutes per day over a set time scale (Chandrasiri et al., 2020, Navarro-Haro et al., 2017).

Patients who are on our psychological treatment waiting list at Veterans NHS Wales have mental health conditions which typically have anxiety as a core component.

We became interested in the use of VR and wanted to understand if loaning Virtual Reality Masks (VRM) would be a beneficial intervention for our patients to use in the comfort of their own home whilst waiting for psychological treatment.

Project Aims and Objectives:

Aims: To establish the effectiveness, feasibility and acceptability of using a VRM as a treatment waiting list intervention for managing anxiety.
Objective: Participant to loan a VR mask and use daily at home over 2 weeks. Participant to select and watch one of the 4 preloaded 10 minute duration VR mindfulness clips.

Project Outcomes:

Post outcome measures indicated a slight decrease in the participants anxiety (GAD-7) and a slight increase in the quality of life (ReQol-10), however the results were not statistically significant.

Qualitative feedback was variable on the effectiveness of using VR and learning mindfulness skills as an intervention for anxiety.

VRM was generally found to be feasible and acceptable to use at home.

Project Impact:

  • 62% of participants reported their anxiety reduced while using the VRM, and the same percentage reported reduced anxiety after use.
  • 46% of participants reported learning new mindfulness skills during the pilot, with 67% reporting that they would continue to use these skills.
  • 62% of participants suggested that 2 weeks was not long enough to learn mindfulness skills.
  • 62% of participants felt that the intervention was easy to fit into their day.
  • 54% of participants suggested that this had been a helpful intervention whilst waiting for treatment.
  • 77% of participants would recommend VRM as an intervention to others waiting for psychological treatment.
  • 69% of participants reported that overall, they benefitted from the experience.