Clinical Usefulness of a Simulated Exposure Treatment for Fear of Flying

Xavier Bornas, Miquel Tortella-Feliu, Jordi Llabrés, Andreas Mühlberger, Paul Pauli, and Francesca Barceló (2002) Clinical Usefulness of a Simulated Exposure Treatment for Fear of Flying International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 2002, 2, 247-262

The aim of this paper is to assess the clinical usefulness of a computer assisted exposure treatment for fear of flying, which already proved to be effective in laboratory, controlled conditions. Two studies, one in Mallorca (S1, N= 12) and the other one in Germany (S2, N=8), were conducted. Patients were recruited using advertisements in the airport (S1) or in local newspapers (S2), and they were individually treated. Data on fear of flying were collected before treatment, after computer assisted exposure, and after a post-treatment actual flight. Several results corroborated the clinical usefulness of the treatment: (a) effective exposure time was quite similar in both studies; (b) nineteen out of 20 patients completed treatment and took the actual flight; (c) the main fear reductions were found after computer exposure and before taking the flight; and (d) therapeutic changes were clinically significant in most cases: 91.7% of patients in S1, and 87.5% in S2 improved or recovered. We conclude that the clear structure of the computer assisted program facilitates its application in very different settings. Moreover, therapists need only little training to use the program succesfully.