Preference of Virtual Reality Games in Psychological Pressure and Depression Treatment : Discrete Choice Experiment

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Shan Jin
  • Zijian Tan
  • Sze Ngai Chan
  • Jie Sheng
  • Jian Huang


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere34586
Journal / PublicationJMIR Serious Games
Online published16 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023



Background: Virtual reality (VR) can be used to build many different scenes aimed at reducing study-related stress. However, only few academic experiments on university students for preference testing have been performed.

Objective: This study aims to assess the preference of VR games for stress and depression treatment using a discrete choice experiment (DCE).

Methods: A total of 5 different attributes were selected based on the depression therapy parameters and attributes related to VR: (1) treatment modality; (2) therapy duration; (3) perceived remission rate; (4) probability of adverse events; and the (5) monthly cost of adding treatment to a discrete choice experiment. By comparing different attributes and levels, we could draw some conclusions about the depression therapy testing preference for university students; 1 university student was responsible for VR scene development and 1 for participant recruitment.

Results: The utility value of different attributes for “0% Probability of adverse events” was higher than others (99.22), and the utility value of VR treatment as the most popular treatment method compared with counseling and medicine treatment was 80.95. Three parameter aspects (different treatments for depression) were statistically significant (P<.001), including “0%” and “50%” of “Probability of adverse events” and “¥500” (a currency exchange rate of ¥1 [Chinese yuan]=US $0.15 is applicable) of “The monthly cost of treatment.” Most individuals preferred 12 months as the therapy duration, and the odds ratio of “12 months” was 1.095 (95% CI 0.945-1.270) when compared with the reference level (6 months). Meanwhile, the cheapest price (¥500) of depression therapy was the optimum choice for most students.

Conclusions: People placed great preference on VR technology psychological intervention methods, which indicates that VR may have a potential market in the treatment of psychological problems. However, adverse events and treatment costs need to be considered. This study can be used to guide policies that are relevant to the development of the application of VR technology in the field of psychological pressure and depression treatment.

Research Area(s)

  • virtual reality, discrete choice experiment, college student, depression therapy

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