0Phobia - towards a virtual cure for acrophobia: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

T. Donker*, S. Van Esveld, N. Fischer, A. Van Straten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) has been shown to be as effective as traditional forms of in vivo exposure therapy for the treatment of specific phobias. However, as with in vivo exposure, VRET still involves relatively high costs and limited accessibility which makes it prohibitive for a large part of the population. Innovative methods using smartphone applications (apps) may improve accessibility and scalability of VRET. The aim of this study is to evaluate 0Phobia, a gamified self-guided VRET for acrophobia that is delivered through a smartphone app in combination with rudimentary cardboard virtual reality (VR) goggles. Methods/design: Participants (N = 180, aged 18-65 years) with acrophobia symptoms will be recruited from the Dutch general population and randomized to either 0Phobia (n = 90) or a waitlist control condition (n = 90). 0Phobia will be delivered over a period of 3 weeks and includes psychoeducation, VR exposure, cognitive techniques, monitoring of symptoms, and relapse prevention. The primary outcome measure will be the Acrophobia Questionnaire. Secondary outcome measures will include user-friendliness, symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mastery. Assessments will take place online at baseline, directly after the intervention (post test) and at follow-up (3 months). Discussion: This study capitalizes on novel technology and recent scientific advances to develop an affordable and scalable treatment modality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number433
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2018


This study represents independent research supported by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research, Applied, and Technical Science (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO), Toegepaste en Technische Wetenschappen) with reference number 2016/STW/00099738, and NWO Creative Industrie-KIEM (reference number: 314–98-076). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NWO.

FundersFunder number
Toegepaste en Technische Wetenschappen2016/STW/00099738, 314–98-076
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


    • Acrophobia
    • App-based
    • Gamification
    • Serious games
    • Specific phobia
    • Virtual reality


    Dive into the research topics of '0Phobia - towards a virtual cure for acrophobia: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this