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Efficacy and acceptability of different interventions for acrophobia: A network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

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posted on 2023-07-26, 15:18 authored by Po-Han Chou, Ping-Tao Tseng, Yi-Cheng Wu, Jane Pei-Chen Chang, Yu-Kang Tu, Brendon Stubbs, Andre F. Carvalho, Pao-Yen Lin, Yen-Wen Chen, Kuan-Pin Su
Background: Currently, different psychological interventions have shown significant efficacy in the treatment of acrophobia. However, the superiority of these individual treatments remains unclear. This network meta-analysis (NMA) aimed to investigate the efficacy, acceptability, and superiority of different existing interventions for acrophobia. Methods: We conducted a NMA of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and compared the efficacy, acceptability, and superiority of different existing interventions for acrophobia. Results: In total, 17 RCTs (946 participants) were included in this study. The NMA demonstrated that virtual reality (VR) coach-delivered psychotherapy (standardised mean difference [SMD]=-2.08, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -3.22 to -0.93), in vivo exposure augmented with oppositional action (SMD=-1.66, 95% CI: -2.81 to -0.51), VR exposure therapy with 20 mg cortisol administration (SMD=-1.61, 95% CI: -3.14 to -0.09), VR based cognitive behavioural therapy (VRbasedCBT; SMD=-1.14, 95% CI: -2.22 to -0.05), and in vivo exposure (SMD=-1.02, 95% CI: -1.81 to -0.23) were significantly superior than the placebo/control interventions in improving the symptoms of patients with acrophobia. The NMA further indicated that VR coach-delivered psychotherapy was associated with the best improvement among all the 19 treatments for acrophobia. Furthermore, only VRbasedCBT (odds ratio=2.55, 95% CI: 1.09 to 5.96) was associated with higher dropout rate than the control/placebo. Limitations: Sample heterogeneity, non-standardised assessment tools, and limited RCTs in some of the treatment arms. Conclusions: VR coach-delivered psychotherapy could be considered as a first-line intervention for treating acrophobia. However, because of the study limitations, the overall evidence was not sufficiently strong, which warrants future studies.



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Journal of Affective Disorders






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Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine & Social Care

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