Journal List > J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc > v.59(1) > 1143430

J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc. 2020 Feb;59(1):51-60. Korean.
Published online Feb 29, 2020.
Copyright © 2020 Korean Neuropsychiatric Association
Treatment Effect of Psychoeducation and Training Program Using Virtual Reality Technique in the Patients with Depressive Symptoms
MinJea Kim, MD,1,2 Sun-Woo Choi, MA,2 SunYoung Moon, MA,2 Hae-In Park, MA,2 HeeKyung Hwang, MA,2 Min-Kyeong Kim, MD, PhD,1,2 and Jeong-Ho Seok, PhD1,2
1Department of Psychiatry, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
2Institute of Behavioral Science in Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Address for correspondence: Jeong-Ho Seok, MD, PhD. Department of Psychiatry, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 211 Eonju-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06273, Korea. Tel +82-2-2019-3343, Fax +82-2-3462-4304, Email:
Received Sep 24, 2019; Revised Nov 14, 2019; Accepted Dec 09, 2019.



To compare the clinical effectiveness of the virtual reality (VR) programs in assessing psychosocial problems, improving symptoms, and reducing suicide risk in depressive patients with those of pharmacotherapy.


Thirty-six patients were recruited with depression in the treatment group and 22 participants in the healthy control group through internet advertisements between November 2018 and March 2019. Participants in the treatment group were allocated randomly at a 1:1 ratio to either the VR group or pharmacotherapy group. At the baseline, all participants were assessed with a comprehensive battery for their psychological characteristics by structured scales using VR technologies. Assessments of patients in the treatment group were repeated four weeks after therapeutic intervention. The primary outcome measures were the Korean Version of Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Report and suicidality scales of the Korean Mini International Neuropsychiatric interview. The borderline personality (Personality Assessment Inventory-Borderline Features Scale) and resilience (Korean Resilience Questionnaire) were also evaluated.


Twenty-four depressive patients completed the treatment, and the final assessment was conducted after four weeks of treatment. In the initial assessment, the patient group showed significantly higher depressive symptoms, suicidality, borderline personality trait, and lower resilience than healthy control group. After the four-week therapeutic interventions, the VR group showed significant improvement in depression, suicidality, borderline personality trait, and resilience. In addition, there was no significant difference in the treatment efficacy between the VR group and the pharmacotherapy group.


In this study, the VR treatment program has clear benefits for emotional distress and reducing suicidality in depressive patients. Evidence-based VR treatments may show new clinical potential for depressive disorder.

Keywords: Virtual reality; Psychotherapy; Depressive disorder; Suicidal ideation


Fig. 1
A screenshot sample of the psychological characteristic evaluation test in virtual reality program.
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Fig. 2
A screenshot sample of an psycho-education session in virtual reality program.
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Fig. 3
A screenshot sample of a skill training session in virtual reality program.
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Table 1
The items of basic intellectual capacity screening test on reading comprehension and calculation for participation of virtual reality task
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Table 2
Overview of VR education/training program
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Table 3
Demographic data of the subjects
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Table 4
Comparison of baseline assessment among three groups
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Table 5
Changes in scores for psychological assessment of the VR and drug group
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Conflicts of Interest:The authors have no financial conflicts of interest.


This work was supported by the Technology Innovation Program (Research No. 10069086) funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE, Republic of Korea).

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