Can Biofeedback Videogames Engage Youth at Risk for Psychosis and Facilitate Interpersonal Connection and Reduced Stress Reactivity? Lessons from a Feasibility Trial of Computer Aided Learning for Managing Stress (CALMS)

Poster B, Tuesday, October 9, 12:00 - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Kelsey Johnson1, Cole Chokran1, Joyce Cheng1, Richard Schmidt2, Kristen Woodberry1; 1Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 2College of the Holy Cross

Although the peak onset of psychotic disorders occurs during adolescence and early adulthood, the majority of treatments for youth at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis are designed for adults. There is an urgent need for treatments that will effectively engage youth. Many CHR, despite poor academic and social engagement, spend hours each day engaged in complicated videogame play. We sought to determine if videogames could provide an effective medium for engaging and treating this population. To do so, we conducted a feasibility trial of Computer Aided Learning for Managing Stress (CALMS), a 12-week family therapy designed to engage high-risk youth and their parents. Using biofeedback embedded in cooperative videogame play, we aimed to enhance resilience to stress and reduce interpersonal conflict. Of youth-parent pairs who consented to the study, 63% completed the treatment. Participants showed a moderate decrease in perceived stress (Z=-0.67), conflict (Z=-0.60), and criticism (Z=-0.75) from baseline to follow-up, as well as a nearly significant increase in sociomotor synchrony (p=0.08). We report self-report data on treatment credibility, user experience, and interpersonal interactions. Pilot data on heart rate and motor synchrony are also presented as potential new targets for social interventions incorporating multiplayer videogame play. Findings to date confirm the ongoing need to effectively engage adolescents and young adults and the potential of videogames for enhancing interpersonal engagement, including with parents. We present recommendations for further development and use of videogames in treatments for this population.

Topic Area: Ultra High Risk / Prodromal Research

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