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Impact VR: An Emotion Recognition and Regulation Training Program for Youth with Conduct Disorder

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41MH133540-01
Agency Tracking Number: R41MH133540
Amount: $296,182.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 104
Solicitation Number: PA20-272
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-05-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-11-01
Small Business Information
Glen Allen, VA 23059-5319
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (804) 828-1242
Business Contact
Phone: (804) 297-5740
Research Institution
BOX 980568
RICHMOND, VA 23298-0568
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Conduct disorder (CD) remains one of the most common, impairing, and costliest psychiatric disorders among
youth. Youth with CD often face lifelong adjustment, mental health, legal, social, occupational, and physical
health problems. A subset of youth with CD display callous-unemotional (CU) traits. Youth with CD and CU traits
are more likely to engage in chronic criminal behaviors and develop psychopathology into adulthood when
compared to youth with CD only. Although both CD and CU traits are inextricably linked to poor outcomes, there
remains a scarcity of targeted interventions for CD and CU traits. One of the most significant challenges for
treatment is that youth with CD are often perceived as treatment-resistant and treatment disrupters. This leads
to poor treatment retention and further isolation from treatment opportunities. Interventions that do exist largely
focus on reducing antisocial behavior rather than disrupting the developmental mechanisms of CD and CU traits.
Arche VR, LLC, a Virginia-based small business, aims to offer a solution to this problem by providing a culturally
appropriate, cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) intervention for CD and CU traits called Impact VR. Impact VR
provides brief psychoeducational programming for emotion regulation and emotion recognition training using
immersive gameplay and storylines that are engaging and relevant to youth. At the center of Impact VR is an
individualized training program that teaches youth to effectively identify emotional expressions in others. Impact
VR uses cutting-edge technologies, including integrated eye-tracking and real-time adaptive programming to
adjust instruction based on the youths' performance. This ensures that youth receive tailored, individualized
treatment without the risk of floor and ceiling effects. The overall objective of the proposal is to refine Impact VR
to be an engaging and topic-relevant intervention that youth with CD will want to participate in, and to determine
the feasibility and usability of the deployment of Impact VR across treatment settings (i.e., in the home, school,
and mental health settings). Lastly, this study includes a randomized control trial (RCT) to assess the preliminary
efficacy of Impact VR for reducing CD, CU traits, and conduct problems (CP) and improving emotion recognition
and regulation. During our early-stage focus groups with mental health professionals and educators, we
discovered a critical need for Impact VR to be available to Spanish-speaking youth. To address this unanticipated
need, this administrative supplement (PA-20-272) is requesting funds to include Spanish-speaking youth, which
will also bolster our recruitment opportunities for the project. The supplement will support translating Impact VR
to Spanish, as well as including Spanish-speaking youth in the development process (SA1 and SA2) and
evaluation of Impact VR (SA3). Research has shown that mental health among Spanish-speaking youth has
worsened in recent years, and this is largely due to the reduction in Spanish-language mental health services.
This supplement will strengthen the existing study by increasing recruitment opportunities, as well as provide
equitable research and treatment opportunities to Spanish-speaking youth.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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