Positive Psychological Intervention Delivered Using Virtual Reality in Patients on Hemodialysis With Comorbid Depression: Protocol and Design for the Joviality Randomized Controlled Trial

Rosalba Hernandez*, Ken Wilund, Killivalavan Solai, David Tamayo, Drew Fast, Prasakthi Venkatesan, James P. Lash, Claudia M. Lora, Lizet Martinez, Geovana Martin Alemañy, Angela Martinez, Soonhyung Kwon, Dana Romero, Matthew H.E.M. Browning, Judith T. Moskowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Depression is highly prevalent in individuals on hemodialysis, but it is infrequently identified and remains undertreated. In this paper, we present details of the methodology of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) aimed at testing the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a 5-week positive psychological intervention in individuals on hemodialysis with comorbid depression delivered using immersive virtual reality (VR) technology. Objective: We aim to describe the protocol and design of the Joviality trial whose main objectives are 2-fold: determine the feasibility of the Joviality VR software through metrics capturing rates of recruitment, refusal, retention, noncompliance, and adherence, as well as end-user feedback; and assess preliminary efficacy for outcomes measures of depressive symptoms, psychological well-being and distress, quality of life, treatment adherence, clinical biomarkers, and all-cause hospitalizations. Methods: This 2-arm RCT is scheduled to enroll 84 individuals on hemodialysis with comorbid depression from multiple outpatient centers in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Enrollees will be randomized to the following groups: VR-based Joviality positive psychological intervention or sham VR (2D wildlife footage and nature-based settings with inert music presented using a head-mounted display). To be eligible, individuals must be on hemodialysis for at least 3 months, have Beck Depression Inventory-II scores of ≥11 (ie, indicative of mild-to-severe depressive symptoms), be aged ≥21 years, and be fluent in English or Spanish. The Joviality VR software was built using agile design principles and incorporates fully immersive content, digital avatars, and multiplex features of interactability. Targeted skills of the intervention include noticing positive events, positive reappraisal, gratitude, acts of kindness, and mindful or nonjudgmental awareness. The primary outcomes include metrics of feasibility and acceptability, along with preliminary efficacy focused on decreasing symptoms of depression. The secondary and tertiary outcomes include quality of life, treatment adherence, clinical biomarkers, and all-cause hospitalization rates. There are 4 assessment time points: baseline, immediately after the intervention, 3 months after the intervention, and 6 months after the intervention. We hypothesize that depressive symptoms and hemodialysis-related markers of disease will substantially improve in participants randomized to the VR-based Joviality positive psychology treatment arm compared with those in the attention control condition. Results: This RCT is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and is scheduled to commence participant recruitment in June 2023. Conclusions: This trial will be the first to test custom-built VR software to deliver a positive psychological intervention, chairside, in individuals on hemodialysis to reduce symptoms of depression. Within the context of an RCT using an active control arm, if proven effective, VR technology may become a potent tool to deliver mental health programming in clinical populations during their outpatient treatment sessions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere45100
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • comorbid depression
  • depression
  • emotional well-being
  • hemodialysis
  • mindfulness
  • positive psychology
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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