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dc.contributor.advisorRegenbrecht, Holger
dc.contributor.advisorSwain, Nicola
dc.contributor.authorAlghamdi, Mohammed
dc.identifier.citationAlghamdi, M. (2017). Enabling Parental Stress Resilience Training with Virtual Reality (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractTransition to parenthood is a difficult task that involves major life changes. These changes can increase vulnerability to stress and mental health problems for mothers and fathers. Everyday parental stressors occurring in a family environment may also contribute to psychological stress and anxiety. Any damage to parents’ mental health is likely to have short- or long-term negative impacts on children and families. Most of the current interventions for parental stress are implemented after the issue has arisen. In addition, medication use at such a time is limited. Thus, new techniques for preventing or reducing the risk of parental stress and associated mental problems for parents are needed for the good of parents, children, and families. In this thesis, technologies from Information and Computer Science are used to enable and evaluate parental stress resilience training using Virtual Reality (VR). The scenario focuses on enhancing coping skills of parents to meet the everyday parental stress and emotional challenges that arise in a home environment after having a newborn child. A series of steps were conducted to achieve the objectives of this research: requirement analysis, system development, four empirical experiments, and evaluations. The requirement analysis focused on identifying the most stressful everyday stressors for parents during the postnatal period in a house environment. Findings from this analysis showed a list of the most stressful stressors from which a sample was simulated in a new system for the purpose of VR parental stress resilience training. The system was developed as a collaborative virtual environment (CVE), where two networked users (i.e., therapist and client) interact in one virtual environment. Given the design of the system, the first two experiments focused on communication, collaboration, and interaction in CVEs. A new design of communication in CVEs was introduced and examined. The results from these experiments showed that the new design provided higher level of social presence compared to a standard technique. In the third experiment, the influence of the developed virtual stressors on users’ psychological responses were examined and evaluated. The examined psychological responses included perceived stress, anxiety, presence, workload, and performance. The main results from this experiment showed that (1) everyday stress stimuli can lead to actually perceived psychological responses, and that (2) even non-immersive VR can be used to achieve this. The fourth experiment examined and evaluated the utility and feasibility of the concept/system from the perspective of mental health specialists. A sample of future users of the system (practitioners) tested and evaluated the developed system and its concept in a simulated clinical experiment. Findings from this experiment showed that practitioners perceived the benefits of using VR exposure of everyday parental stressors for therapeutic stress resilience training as outweighing the costs (disadvantages). The practitioners appeared to support the current research concept of enabling parental stress resilience training that focuses on daily stressors. The complete functional and tested system was delivered to an authorised mental health clinic for future clinical effectiveness examination. The findings of this research contributed to the advancement and knowledge in the area of VR clinical applications and mental health. The technological developments and empirical investigations in this thesis have shown how the concept of VR parental stress resilience training is enabled and evaluated. This expanded the possibility and benefits of VR for mental health services to enhance the mental well- being of parents. The outcomes from this thesis will facilitate the next phase of examining the clinical effectiveness of VR parental stress resilience training in real therapeutic practice.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectVirtual Reality
dc.subjectParental Stress
dc.subjectStress Resilience Training
dc.subjectStress Inoculation Training
dc.titleEnabling Parental Stress Resilience Training with Virtual Reality
dc.language.rfc3066en Science of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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