The validation study of NeuroCog Trials’ Virtual Reality Functional Capacity Assessment Tool (VRFCAT) is now in press in Schizophrenia Research, available as Open Access. Performance on the VRFCAT was compared to the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) and the UCSD Performance-based Skills Assessment (UPSA) in 167 patients with schizophrenia, and 166 healthy controls, at 3 US sites.
The VRFCAT assesses 12 objectives across four different functional abilities: checking for the availability of items to complete a recipe, taking a bus, shopping in a store, and managing currency. These scenarios are tested using a first-person, immersive computerized environment. Test-retest reliability of the 6 alternate forms of the VRFCAT was also assessed 7-14 days later, alongside the UPSA.

The magnitude of differences between the groups was very large and similar for all outcomes, with Cohen’s d=1.21 for the VRFCAT time to completion, d=1.22 for the MCCB composite and d=1.16 for the UPSA. Test-retest for the VRFCAT was similar to the UPSA, although the VRFCAT showed an absence of practice effects that were present with the UPSA. The VRFCAT took patients approximately 30 minutes to complete, and subjects reported it to be highly realistic, pleasant to take, easy to use, and the instructions were clear.

The study demonstrates the utility of the VRFCAT as a repeatable assessment of functional capacity, suitable for use in clinical trials. The flexibility of the computerized format is also a benefit, with the potential for being delivered remotely, as well as being customized for different cultural settings.

Read the article in Schizophrenia Research.

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