The role of virtual reality intervention on young adult smokers’ motivation to quit smoking: a feasibility and pilot study
Smoking continues to be a health concern around the world due to its adverse health outcomes such as lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Virtual reality has previously shown potential to create opportunities to engage in behaviors in a safe environment that can be controlled experimentally. The current study attempts to compare the efficacy and acceptability of different motivational stimuli to improve motivation to quit smoking in young adults.
To complete the study 40 young adult smokers between the age of 18-30 years were recruited. Inclusion criteria included the participants smoking over 10 cigarettes per day for at least a year and unwilling to quit smoking in the next six months. The virtual reality experience included a computer workstation with 6 degrees of freedom motion-tracking along with a large screen for displaying the scenarios. The scenarios provided included showing an image of a healthy lung and unhealthy lung, a video showing effects of smoking on the human body, and a shocking virtual reality session. The last session included a hotel suite where the participant could interact with a packet of cigarettes and they could see the subject become seriously ill from the cigarettes.
The researchers found that in all three virtual reality situations, all the participants willingness to quit smoking increased. They found that it increased the most for the virtual reality session. This study provides valuable information about the potential for using virtual reality when motivating individuals to stop habits that are unhealthy. It has been shown to provide a more natural learning model as compared to symbolic reconstructive learning. Virtual reality could be a new potential method of communication for interventions and preventions of unhealthy habits such as problematic drinking and smoking throughout college campuses.
Take Away: Smoking remains a health concern around the world. The current study focuses on comparing efficacy and acceptability of different motivational stimuli provided through a virtual reality platform. 40 young adult smokers were recruited between the age of 18-30 who reported smoking over 10 cigarettes a day and unwillingness to quit. The participants were put through three virtual reality scenarios including a shocking virtual reality session. The researchers found that in all three situations the participants willingness to quit increase. Virtual reality has been shown previously to provide a more natural learning model and has the potential to be a method of communication for interventions and preventions throughout college campuses.
Caponnetto, P., Maglia, M., Lombardo, D., Demma, S., & Polosa, R. (2019). The role of virtual reality intervention on young adult smokers motivation to quit smoking: a feasibility and pilot study. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 1–10. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2019.1664364