Although gut-directed psychotherapies are effective for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), they are rarely prescribed, given a paucity of trained clinicians. Virtual reality (VR) offers a solution by allowing patients to self-practice these techniques in a standardized manner.
A multidisciplinary team developed IBS/VR, a program that transports users into immersive VR worlds that teach patients about the brain-gut axis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and gut-directed meditation. We tested IBS/VR in Rome IV IBS patients and used inductive analysis to evaluate perceptions and identify recommendations.
We achieved thematic saturation after 9 interviews; 3 additional interviews revealed no emergent themes. After making 23 software changes based on patient feedback, we conducted 3 additional interviews which confirmed thematic saturation (N = 15 total).
This study offers initial validation of the first VR program designed for IBS.