IMI has obtained grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop a virtual world that works to prevent teen smoking. The Institute took a unique approach to the development of this online cessation game. Committed to making the game as relevant and relatable as possible, researchers sought the input of local high school students to design the VR scenarios. Providing input into the most salient smoking cues both at home and at school, the teenagers were able to help develop an impactful program for their peers.The world allows the user to enter a human body, observing internal organs and bodily functions. By creating two versions of the environment, users will be exposed to the inside of both a healthy body and a smoker’s body. Combined with education, teens entering this environment witness the damage that cigarettes inflict upon internal organs. By experiencing this immersive environment, teens will be able to internalize the dangers of smoking. This program hopes to discourage teens from beginning to smoke, and will encourage those that do to stop.
In collaboration with researchers from Chung And University in Korea, the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, and University of Toronto’s Medical Biophysics Department the Institute also conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suited of cue-induced smoking craving in virtual environments. This study sought evidence to confirm the hypothesis that smokers experience greater craving in response to smoking cues than to affectively neutral cues that do not have smoking content. This study also sought differences in craving between classical cues (2D pictures) and 3D VEs.
Since these projects, IMI has produced numerous publications and partnered with research institutes to expand this research and provided consult on other smoking prevention and cessation programs.
Wiederhold, B. K., Miller, I., & Wiederhold, M. D. (2017). Virtual Reality Smoking Cessation–Designed for Teens, by Teens. The Open Family Studies Journal, 9(1).
Gao, K., Wiederhold, M. D., Kong, L., & Wiederhold, B. K. (2013). Clinical experiment to assess effectiveness of virtual reality teen smoking cessation program.
Lee, J., Lim, Y., Graham, S. J., Kim, G., Wiederhold, B. K., Wiederhold, M. D., … & Kim, S. I. (2004). Nicotine craving and cue exposure therapy by using virtual environments. CyberPsychology& Behavior, 7(6), 705-713.
Lee, J. H., Ku, J., Kim, K., Kim, B., Kim, I. Y., Yang, B. H., Wiederhold, B.K…. & Lim, Y. (2003). Experimental application of virtual reality for nicotine craving through cue exposure. CyberPsychology& Behavior, 6(3), 275-280.
Ahmann, N. Ed. Wiederhold, B.K. (2014) Teens Help Create Internet Environment to Curb Teen Smoking. Cybertherapyand Rehabilitation Magazine. 6(1), 14-17.
Lee JH, Lim Y, Wiederhold BK, Graham SJ. A functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) study of cue-induced smoking craving in virtual environments. Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback. 2005 Sep 1;30(3):195-204.