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Article

A Virtual Reality-Based Self-Help Intervention for Dealing with the Psychological Distress Associated with the COVID-19 Lockdown: An Effectiveness Study with a Two-Week Follow-Up

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Humane Technology Lab., Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 20123 Milan, Italy
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Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Lab., IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, 20149 Milan, Italy
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Become-Hub, 20123 Milan, Italy
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Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 20123 Milan, Italy
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Faculty of Psychology, University of eCampus, 22060 Novedrate, Italy
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Virtual Reality Medical Center, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
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Virtual Reality Medical Institute, 1200 Brussels, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Pasquale Caponnetto, Maria Salvina Signorelli and Marilena Maglia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(15), 8188; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158188
Received: 21 June 2021 / Revised: 27 July 2021 / Accepted: 28 July 2021 / Published: 2 August 2021
The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of a novel self-administered at-home daily virtual reality (VR)-based intervention (COVID Feel Good) for reducing the psychological burden experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. A total of 40 individuals who had experienced at least two months of strict social distancing measures followed COVID Feel Good between June and July 2020 for one week. Primary outcome measures were depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms, perceived stress levels, and hopelessness. Secondary outcomes were the experienced social connectedness and the level of fear experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Linear mixed-effects models were fitted to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. Additionally, we also performed a clinical change analysis on primary outcome measures. As concerning primary outcome measures, participants exhibited improvements from baseline to post-intervention for depression levels, stress levels, general distress, and perceived stress (all p < 0.05) but not for the perceived hopelessness (p = 0.110). Results for the secondary outcomes indicated an increase in social connectedness from T0 to T1 (p = 0.033) but not a significant reduction in the perceived fear of coronavirus (p = 0.412). Among these study variables, these significant improvements were maintained from post-intervention to the 2-week follow-up (p > 0.05). Results indicated that the intervention was associated with good clinical outcomes, low-to-no risks for the treatment, and no adverse effects or risks. Globally, evidence suggests a beneficial effect of the proposed protocol and its current availability in 12 different languages makes COVID Feel Good a free choice for helping individuals worldwide to cope with the psychological distress associated with the COVID-19 crisis, although large scale trials are needed to evaluate its efficacy. View Full-Text
Keywords: psychological stress; virtual reality; COVID-19; well-being; digital technology; self-help technology psychological stress; virtual reality; COVID-19; well-being; digital technology; self-help technology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Riva, G.; Bernardelli, L.; Castelnuovo, G.; Di Lernia, D.; Tuena, C.; Clementi, A.; Pedroli, E.; Malighetti, C.; Sforza, F.; Wiederhold, B.K.; Serino, S. A Virtual Reality-Based Self-Help Intervention for Dealing with the Psychological Distress Associated with the COVID-19 Lockdown: An Effectiveness Study with a Two-Week Follow-Up. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 8188. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158188

AMA Style

Riva G, Bernardelli L, Castelnuovo G, Di Lernia D, Tuena C, Clementi A, Pedroli E, Malighetti C, Sforza F, Wiederhold BK, Serino S. A Virtual Reality-Based Self-Help Intervention for Dealing with the Psychological Distress Associated with the COVID-19 Lockdown: An Effectiveness Study with a Two-Week Follow-Up. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(15):8188. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158188

Chicago/Turabian Style

Riva, Giuseppe, Luca Bernardelli, Gianluca Castelnuovo, Daniele Di Lernia, Cosimo Tuena, Alex Clementi, Elisa Pedroli, Clelia Malighetti, Francesca Sforza, Brenda K. Wiederhold, and Silvia Serino. 2021. "A Virtual Reality-Based Self-Help Intervention for Dealing with the Psychological Distress Associated with the COVID-19 Lockdown: An Effectiveness Study with a Two-Week Follow-Up" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 15: 8188. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158188

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