VR effectief als stress training voor first responders?

Is VR training geschikt voor ‘stress exposure training’? Deze vraag is onderzocht is een leerzaam artikel bij de doelgroep ‘militaire cadetten’ in Nederland. Dit waren voor mij enkele leerzame onderwerpen:

Is VR training geschikt voor ‘stress exposure training’?

“the results of the current study did not directly support the implementation of such technology for stress management, inoculation, and/or resilience training” (p 13)

It seems that in the tested VR training scenario, the novelty of the scenario was the only effective stress stimuli, whereas the other implemented stressors did not cause a measurable physiological response (p1)

“Given the effort that was spent to develop a realistic military VR scenario for this experiment, it is remarkable that it did not lead to a more pronouncedphysiological stress response. The response level was similar to that for computer-based games, like puzzle, race, or sports games (Van Der Vijgh et al., 2015). Thus, it seems that immersive technology are not a prerequisite to increase stress” (p 12)

Kun je deelnemers die de situatie als bedreigend (threat) zien onderscheiden van degene die de situatie als een uitdaging (challenge) zien m.b.v. fysiologische meting ?


For the second research objective, we classified participants who were feeling more threatened than others during the virtual scenarios using indexes of cardiovascular patterns of challenge and threat developed by Blascovich and colleagues, which are further described in the Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat”

Komt deze fysiologische meting overeen met de subjectie ‘threat of challenge’ ervaring op basis van een vragenlijst?

Ja! “we still found that the classification corresponded significantly with the cadets’ subjective reports of threat or challenge appraisal, as measured with the Threat and Challenge Appraisal survey (TCA) questionnaire (Drach-Zahavy & Erez, 2002). This further supports the validation of the threat/challenge indexing as well as the TCA, and it supports the use of the TCA as a tool for stress measurement in military populations

Kun je met bovenstaande bevindingen gepersonaliseerde stress exposure training ontwerpen?

A potential next step is to classify trainees in real time as threat or challenge responders based on their physiological data, which can help to offer personalized interventions during the training to learn to cope with stress

Hoe kan het dat de stress vooral voor de simulatie hoog is en daarna niet verder stijgt?

“Instead, the outcomes suggest that novelty and uncertainty about the upcoming events and tasks at the start of the scenario were the main causes of stress in this experiment, and that indices of stress decreased again as the cadets found their routine, despite the cumulatively added stressors”

“In contrast to these expectations, results indicated an increase in stress only in the first phase of the scenario for EDA, HR, and measures that are strongly correlated to HR (i.e., HRV, CO). The subsequently added stressors (increased noise, increased task difficulty, changes in lighting, a simulated IED explosion, negative social evaluations, and electric muscle stimulation) did not cause a significant further increase”……………..mogelijk speelt hier gewenning een rol.

De rol van begeleiding / priming

This was possibly an effect of cadet’s anticipatory anxiety due to their leaders’ introduction of the experiment. ”. Consequently, participants might have appraised this introduction as a stressor, especially in combination with the uncertainty about what would happen during the course of the experiment. Hence, such an introduction might also be an effective measure to induce stress, but it should be more controlled for in future research

Wat zijn op basis van deze studie belangrijke stressoren om te manipuleren in stress exposure trainingen?

We conclude that if VR training scenarios are to be used for stress training, these should confront trainees with unpredictable but context-specific demands.

For example, performance assessment by instructors can be added to make a scenario or training more stressful and to increase the credibility of the VR training.


Olaf Binsch, Charelle Bottenheft, Annemarie Landman, Linsey Roijendijk & Eric H.G.J.M. Vermetten (2021) Testing the applicability of a virtual reality simulation platform for stress training of first responders, Military Psychology, 33:3, 182-196,