A pilot study of virtual support for grief: Feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes

Lindsey M. Knowles, Eva Maria Stelzer, Krystal S. Jovel, Mary Frances O'Connor

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Abstract

Social support and grief education can ameliorate mental and physical health risks in widow(er)s. However, barriers often prevent older individuals from attending support groups. This controlled pilot study examined the feasibility and acceptability of an online, real-time, interactive virtual reality (VR) support group for widow(er)s, and assessed the preliminary efficacy of the VR support group for improving psychosocial outcomes and sleep quality compared to an active control grief education website. Thirty widow(er)s (Mage = 67.0, SD = 11.0) participated in an 8-week VR support group or accessed a grief education website. Participants completed self-report measures of depression, grief intensity, grief cognitions, yearning, loneliness, perceived stress and sleep quality at three time points. Participant attrition and self-report indicated that both interventions were feasible and acceptable. Both groups showed significant improvements in grief severity, grief cognitions, yearning, loneliness, perceived stress, and global sleep quality across study time points. However, only widow(er)s in the VR support group showed a significant improvement in depression across time. This study demonstrates the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary efficacy of an accessible and low-cost online support format for widow(er)s.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages650-658
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume73
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Fingerprint

Grief
Acceptability
Virtual reality
Education
Sleep
Widows
Widowhood
Self-Help Groups
Virtual Reality
Websites
Yearning
Self-report
Loneliness
Efficacy
Web Sites
Cognition
Self Report
Depression
Time and motion study
Health risks

Keywords

  • Avatar
  • Grief
  • Spousal loss
  • Support group
  • Virtual world
  • Web-based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

A pilot study of virtual support for grief : Feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes. / Knowles, Lindsey M.; Stelzer, Eva Maria; Jovel, Krystal S.; O'Connor, Mary Frances.

In: Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 73, 01.08.2017, p. 650-658.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

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