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One of the biggest challenges in long space flight is the psychological impact it has on the crew. I've seen a lot of research into preventing the effects, but what about "preventing" the cause without making a huge ship?

Has there been any research into using virtual reality to try and give the astronaut the experience of being in a open environment?

I was only able to turn up one mention of the idea, but not if it had been studied or if there were any results:

Also, possibly of interest, is a study that found that VR could help reduce the symptoms of patients with claustrophobia.

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I came across a study, which I believe comes close to the question, is using VR to treat the fear of Flight and claustrophobia. The abstract of the study can be found here.

The goal of the study was to understand the effect of Virtual Reality Graded Exposure Therapy. They had a small sample size of thirty individuals diagnosed with the fear of flying. They were then randomly assigned to one of three groups.

Three Groups: VRGET with no physiological feedback (VRGETno), VRGET with physiological feedback (VRGETpm), or systematic desensitization with imaginal exposure therapy (IET). Eight sessions were conducted once a week. During each session, physiology was measured to give an objective measurement of improvement over the course of exposure therapy.

Observations during the three month followup revealed significant difference in flying behavior between the groups.

Only one participant (10%) who received IET, eight of the ten participants (80%) who received VRGETno, and ten out of the ten participants (100%) who received VRGETpm reported an ability to fly without medication or alcohol at three-month followup.

The results suggest that VRGET can be a possible treatment for the fear of flying. Implications of this procedure could, essentially, be used for treatments of other psychological issues.

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