A Qualitative Exploration of the Experiences of Individuals with Anxiety Related Disorders Exposed to Virtual Reality Based Therapy: A Participatory Approach.
Background Anxiety is defined as feeling of fear and unease and can be experienced both mildly and severely, and both mentally and physically. Anxiety is a debilitating condition impacting the function of people and their general health and wellbeing. Individuals of all ages are susceptible to anxiety either as an issue on its own, or as a co-morbidity, and it is becoming more common as mental health problems among the general population have steadily risen over recent decades. Traditionally, there are several anxiety management interventions currently utilised by occupational therapists, however, given the leaps made in Virtual Reality technology, VR therapy has become accessible and affordable and is now beginning to be integrated into UK healthcare and subsequently, anxiety treatment and management. Proposed Research This project aims to explore the previous work carried out concerning Virtual Reality’s relationship to anxiety treatment through a literature review and upon identifying research-gaps, proposes research which may lead to a foundation for future research and improvements in practice. The research proposed is a generic qualitative based study, utilising philosophies and methods form both descriptive phenomenology and Participatory Action Research. It seeks to embrace the concept that those who have already experienced treatment are the true ‘experts’ regarding Virtual Reality based anxiety treatment and should be brought into the fold as ‘pioneers’ and sources of knowledge when exploring this new and exciting technology and the benefits it can bring to people’s lives and overall wellbeing when considering it as a therapeutic intervention tool.