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Evaluation of a Mobile Virtual Reality Intervention for Social Anxiety Disorder: Ethical and Methodological Lessons Learned


Technological advances, such as virtual reality (VR) platforms, have created new mechanisms that can be used to enhance exposure-based treatments targeting anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorders. In tandem with rapidly changing technologies, researchers and clinicians must consider the methodological strengths and limitations of VR platforms. Similarly, the application of novel technologies in clinical research requires a re-examination of the core principles of research ethics (i.e., respect for persons, beneficence, and justice). Despite the complex methodological and ethical considerations associated with VR technology, limited guidance is available. This paper uses a pilot study examining the development of a mobile VR intervention for social anxiety disorder among student veterans to examine methodological and ethical decision points for researchers and clinicians interested in using VR technologies to treat psychological disorders. Specifically, this paper highlights the decision-making process used by a multidisciplinary research team to maximize data usability related to treatment outcomes and minimize risks to the participant.

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Data Availability

The data presented in this paper is limited in scope (e.g., related to reasons for participant attrition). Data is available through communication with the Principal Investigator of the project.


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The development of this article was supported by the Texas State University’s Multidisciplinary Internal Research Grant Program. The views, however, are those of the authors and do not reflect official positions of Texas State University.

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Authors and Affiliations



All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, and analysis were performed by Erica Nason, Mark Trahan, and Dante Cash. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Erica Nason and Mark Trahan, and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Erica E. Nason.

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Ethical of Approval

This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was granted by the Internal Review Board of Texas State University.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Nason, E.E., Trahan, M. & Cash, D. Evaluation of a Mobile Virtual Reality Intervention for Social Anxiety Disorder: Ethical and Methodological Lessons Learned. J. technol. behav. sci. 8, 79–86 (2023).

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  • Research ethics
  • Virtual reality
  • Research design
  • Technology
  • Mental health treatment
  • Anxiety disorders