The following is a summary of the “Virtual reality exposure and response prevention in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in patients with contamination subtype in comparison with in vivo exposure therapy: a randomized clinical controlled trial” published in the November 2022 issue of Psychiatry by Javaherirenani et al.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is defined by intrusive, unwelcome thoughts and ritualistic, time-consuming actions that get in the way of daily life. As an initial line of defense against OCD, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective. As time has progressed, Virtual Reality (VR) has also become a more practical and accessible solution for OCD. The purpose of this research was to examine the efficacy of virtual reality exposure and response prevention (VRERP) for the treatment of the OCD contamination subtype. In all, 36 persons with OCD of the contamination subtype were enrolled and split evenly between the experimental and control groups. Both groups were given CBT, but the intervention group’s 60 minutes included exposure to a “dirty” virtual environment. About 29 of them attended all 12 weekly sessions without dropping out. 

At baseline, week 12, and at 3 months of follow-up, patients filled out the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-44 (OBQ-44), and World Health Organization Disability Assessment Scale-2 (WHODAS-2). The primary outcome, the total score on the obsession and compulsion subscales of the Y-BOCS, decreased significantly in the intervention group, as indicated by the results of the repeated measure analysis of variances (F=60.97, P<0.001, partial eta squared =0.82; F=20.46, P<0.001, partial eta squared =0.61; F=29.57, P<0.001, partial eta squared =0.69; respectively).  

There was no statistically significant difference between the 2 groups in the reduction in total BDI-II and BAI scores (BDI-II: F=0.54, P=0.47, partial eta squared =0.02; BAI: F=3.12, P=0.06, partial eta squared =0.19). The OBQ-44 and the WHODAS-2’s total scores also differed significantly between the groups. However (F=16.78, P<0.001, partial eta squared = 0.56 and F=14.64, P<0.001, partial eta squared =0.53 respectively). The results of this research show that VRERP is beneficial in helping those with the OCD-contamination subtype. Therefore, VRERP can serve as a substitute exposure method in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).