Using virtual reality to reduce state anxiety and stress in University students: An experiment

Dayne Camara, Richard E. Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Background/Objectives: Anxiety is common in the general population and also among university students, affecting their performance. Virtual reality (VR) devices can theoretically help alleviate anxiety pressures faced, by immersing participants in an interactive synthetic environment that is calming. The current study examined whether using a mobile VR device would support this theoretical position and help reduce anxiety levels in university students.
Methods: The study randomly assigned 30 participating university students to two groups: one experimental (VR) group and the other a control (reading task – RT) group. All participants first completed initial surveys (demographics, depression anxiety and stress scale – DASS-21 and a social desirability scale – SDS) and then were administered in turn the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) to increase stress levels and the State – trait anxiety inventory (STAI-Y) scale to assess the anxiety-stress levels); followed by random allocation into either
the VR experimental group engaged in a virtual tour of Hawaii or the RT group which read neutral extracts from a magazine). Following this, STAI-Y was again administered.
Results: There was a significant difference between the VR and the RT groups with highly significant reductions in stress levels being associated with the VR group
Conclusion: The study demonstrated that anxiety levels could be reduced significantly through the use of VR technology. Further studies are needed in terms of suitable intervention scenarios, equipment quality, and in application to other mental health areas and to different community groups.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Science and Technology Forum (GSTF) Journal of Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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