Do cancer patients benefit from VR-based group therapy?

Researchers from Yale School of Medicine are collaborating with Foretell Reality to study how virtual reality-based group therapy sessions impact cancer patients. 

VR-powered group therapy holds the potential to reduce anxiety levels and depression in cancer patients, allowing participants to chat with one another in an interactive environment. VR could be an especially helpful breakthrough for younger adult patients, allowing them to experience the benefits of group therapy without worrying about traveling or being placed in a situation that might make them feel uncomfortable.

The team’s research includes patients between the ages of 13 and 30. Each participant will have their “anxiety, depression and resilience” monitored before and after VR-based group therapy sessions.

Foretell Reality, a subsidiary company of The Glimpse Group, offers VR co-working spaces to users interested in collaborating in an interactive one-on-one or group setting. The company’s VR technology play a central role in this research.

“A major factor in this study is the convenience for patients to enter a VR-based chat room, something that is especially useful for people with rare diseases or those who live in rural areas” Asher Marks, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement. “The VR technology offered by Foretell Reality allows users to jointly partake as avatars in a shared experience which cannot be replicated over a conference call or video chat. Additionally, patients in the study are presented the option to remain anonymous during the VR group session, giving them a unique opportunity to communicate with others in a way they may otherwise not be comfortable with.”

“VR support groups have the potential to enhance patient care in a way that is not possible with current distance-based communication tools,” Lyron Bentovim, president and CEO of The Glimpse Group, said in the same statement. “We are thankful for Yale's Asher Marks and the brave cancer patients who are participating in this study. Yale Medical Group is a prominent organization that provides thoughtful care and deep insight.”