A New Reality – Meeting Patient Behavioral Health Needs Through Virtual Therapy

Research Category: Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes
Presenter: Nina Jolani
PI: Holly Brugge Jimison h.jimison@neu.edu

In cancer treatment, while the physical aspects of the disease are addressed, the mental health aspects are often overlooked. During the course of treatment, patients are vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and stress. To address this problem, we use Google’s Cardboard Virtual Reality platform as a vehicle to empower patients to manage their stress and anxiety. Our approach diverts the patient from his or her realities by simulating a virtual environment; immersing them in evidence-based approaches for stress management. The platform provides self-help skill training that includes: mindfulness techniques, kinesthetic learning, and relaxation breathing. Using psychological measures embedded in the platform, real-time data is collected and combined with predictive analytics, providing usable information to personalize delivery of care for patients. Our platform addresses cost, access, and stigma issues associated with mental health by bridging the gap in care delivery through innovative therapy.