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Research for the gameChange VR programme

Key details


  • 7 April 2022


  • RCA

Read time

  • 1 minute

Researchers at The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD) have played a key role in a three-year project led by Oxford University, developing a virtual reality (VR) treatment for people seen in psychosis services. The gameChange VR programme represents the largest ever clinical trial of VR for mental health – one of the first such treatments to reach this stage.

Working with former HHCD Senior Research Fellow, Jonathan West, RCA Research Associate Indira Knight led research which placed people with lived experience of psychosis at the heart of the design process for the programme, and also published the methodology in the peer-reviewed Design for Health journal. In total, over five hundred hours of feedback was facilitated by The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design alongside the McPin Foundation, a mental health research charity that champions lived experience in research.

Led by researchers at the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, the gameChange VR programme targets a problem that is common in people diagnosed with psychosis: intense fears about being in everyday situations. For many people with psychosis these fears lead them to avoid leaving the home, disrupting relationships with family and friends and day-to-day life. gameChange is designed to help them re-engage with day-to-day activities.

Research published this week in The Lancet Psychiatry details that the programme was shown to work well for patients diagnosed with psychosis, with the most significant benefits experienced by those with the most challenging psychological problems. Treatment with gameChange led to significant reductions in the avoidance of everyday situations: patients who found it hardest to leave the house were able to undertake activities they had previously found unthinkable, which were maintained at a six-month follow-up.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), it’s hoped the gameChange programme will pave the way to widen access to effective psychological therapies.

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