NIDDK Grant Supports Virtual Reality Software to Treat Depressive Symptoms in Hemodialysis Patients
September 07, 2021
Social Work Professor Rosalba Hernandez has received an R01 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Social Work Professor Rosalba Hernandez has received an R01 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), a division of the National Institutes of Health, to develop and test virtual reality (VR) software to treat depressive symptoms in hemodialysis patients. The project is titled, “Virtual Reality: A New Technological Modality to Deliver Psychotherapy to Hemodialysis Patients with Comorbid Depression”. Dr. Hernandez plans to recruit adults undergoing hemodialysis treatment in Chicago and the Champaign-Urbana areas.
The proposed research has significant public health implications as we seek to address and alleviate symptoms of depression and poor mental health in a vulnerable population of hemodialysis patients—a group whose comorbid emotional distress often goes untreated. Out innovative approach seeks to test a 5-week psychotherapeutic intervention, deployed using a virtual reality platform where patients will virtually travel to distant environments or sites, e.g., garden or private beach—this is well aligned with the mission of NIDDK, which seeks to treat adult U.S. populations with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who experience related comorbid conditions. If effective, our positive psychological intervention deployed using a virtual reality platform can be disseminated to hemodialysis patients nationwide across treatment centers, chairside while patients received their regularly scheduled maintenance hemodialysis treatment.