Improving social behaviour in schizophrenia patients using an integrated virtual reality programme: a case study.
Rus-Calafell M., Gutiérrez-Maldonado J., Ribas-Sabaté J.
Social skills training programmes are among the treatments of choice in schizophrenia. Virtual reality (VR) can improve the results obtained with traditional social skills programmes by helping to generalize the acquired responses to patients' daily lives. We present the results of a case study involving the application of an integrated VR programme for social skills training. A 30-year-old woman with a well-established diagnosis of schizophrenia was enrolled in the study. She completed four baseline sessions, 16 treatment sessions and four follow-up sessions three months after the end of the treatment. Using a multiple baseline across-behaviours design, three target behaviours were analysed: facial emotion recognition, social anxiety and conversation time. Symptoms and social function variables were also assessed. The results showed a positive change in the three target behaviours and improvements in interpersonal communication, assertiveness and negative symptoms. The VR programme proved useful for training the patient's social behaviour and, consequently, for improving her performance.