Yale School of Medicine
Healthcare & Pharma
Dr. Asher Marks, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, recognizes the importance of support group sessions for young cancer patients. Studies have shown that these sessions increase survival chances and alleviate depression in this patient population.
But despite Dr. Marks' encouragement, few of his patients were willing to attend in-person therapy sessions. They cited various reasons such as physical exhaustion from traveling, self-consciousness, and fear of exposure to infection.
The Yale School of Medicine joined forces with Glimpse Group subsidiary Foretell Reality to create a virtual reality (VR) app for support group therapy. Patients were equipped with VR headsets and participated in virtual chat rooms with other patients and a social worker.
The use of avatars instead of live video feeds made patients feel more comfortable sharing their personal experiences, and also relieved patients' self-consciousness. VR provided a unique solution for patients to receive support and connect with others, without the added stress and physical strain of in-person meetings.
According to Dr. Marks, the implementation of VR support group therapy sessions has led to significant reductions in patient anxiety and depression and a significant 70% increase in attendance rates.
He attributes this success to the convenience factor for patients to enter a VR-based chat room, making it especially useful for those with rare diseases or those living in remote areas.