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Treating body image disturbance using immersive virtual reality

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PhD

Immersive Virtual Reality in the Treatment of Body Image Disturbance associated with Eating Disorders in Adolescents and Young Adults 

What we are doing?

We are conducting a Randomised Control Trial to test whether a Virtual Reality Training program can improve body image disturbance in adolescence and young people who have a diagnosed eating disorder.  

Why we are doing it?

Body Image disturbance is a key diagnostic feature of Eating Disorders and is known to be responsible for onset, maintenance, and relapse.   Despite this, current NICE recommended talking therapies do not address this issue of Body Image.  Computer Generated Imagery training programs have proven effective in positively changing body image perception; moreover, Virtual Reality has proven effective in helping within obesity.  It is envisaged therefore that a Virtual Reality training program will help improve body image disturbance in adolescents and young people who have a diagnosis of Anorexia and/or Bulimia Nervosa.

What the benefits will be and to whom?

Eating Disorders are complex affecting physical and emotional health; onset generally begins during adolescence.  Recovery is more likely if treated early.  Physical health risks can have a lasting impact into adulthood.  It is therefore vital that young people receive timely and effective treatment.  This study is aimed at 14-18 year olds with the aim to reduce the risk of eating disorder symptoms becoming chronic into adulthood.  The benefits are to the young person themselves, costs to physical and mental health care, and also to families and carers who often feel the financial and emotional pressure of caring for their child. 

Who we are working with?

Participants will be recruited from the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Eating Disorder Service (EDS).  Participants therefore will be aged between 14-18 years of age.  Participants will have a diagnosis of Anorexia and/or Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder. 

Contact

Marie Rawdon, Chief Investigator, University of Lincoln, MRawdon@lincoln.ac.uk.