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Oswald D. Kothgassner
Ap.Prof. Mag. Dr. Oswald D. KothgassnerHead of Stress in Childhood and Adolescence Research Lab

Comprehensive Center for Pediatrics, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Position: Research Associate (Postdoc)

ORCID: 0000-0002-3243-0238
T +43 1 40400 32350

Further Information


Adolescent Behavior; Adolescent Psychology; Anxiety Disorders; Psychophysiology; Social Behavior; Social Behavior Disorders; Stress Disorders, Traumatic, Acute; Stress, Psychological; Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Research group(s)

Research interests

1) Stress:

I have devoted my research career is to understand chronic and acute stress responses and its consequences from childhood to young adults and how this is related to the development and maintenance of mental disorders. I have been particularly interested in the cognitive, physiological and hormonal underpinnings of stress and their influence on social behavior (e.g. helping behavior, social avoidance). I try to achieve high scientific quality by developing and using innovative technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) for experimental stress research or ecological momentary assessment (EMA) for collecting data outside the laboratory. Furthermore, I focus on the developement and evaluation of new tools for psychological therapy to treat stress-related disorders in adolescence and young adults (e.g. computer-based treatments).

2) Psychopathology & Treatment:

My research fields are experimental psychopathology and research on the efficacy of new therapeutic interventions for stress-related disorders (e.g. clinical trials, meta-analyses). My focus is especially on comprehensive meta-analytic approaches to comprehensively compare data from RCTs and CCTs and thereby promote tailored and patient-oriented interventions. I try to contribute for innovative approaches in therapy of stress-related disorders and enable transfer of innovative methods to clinicians in the field.

More information about my work: SCAR-Unit or @KothgassnerLab.

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

Techniques & Methods:

  • Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)
  • Experimental stress-induction paradigms (CPT, TSST)
  • Eye-Tracking
  • Hormonal Analysis (Hair, Saliva)
  • Meta-Analyses
  • Physiology (ECG, EMG, SCL)


  • VR-Lab: We use Virtual Reality (VR) with included eye-tracking devices for experimental stress induction (Cyberball, TSST), Virtual Reality Interventions for several psychopathologies and Educational Training.
  • Stress Lab: Our stress lab provides the possibilities of conducting real-life stress tests (TSST, CPT) and ecological momentary assessments.
  • Meta-Analysis-Lab (MAL): Our statistical "lab" focusses on meta-analytic approaches for treatment evaluation and estimate new information from massive data and comprehensively analyse to gain new insights and results regarding mechanisms of disorders and efficacy of treatments.


  • DIGA - Phase II: Digital Health Applications for Children and Adolecents (2024)
    Source of Funding: City of Vienna, PSD Vienna
    Principal Investigator
  • DIGA - Phase I: Digital Health Applications for Children and Adolecents (2023)
    Source of Funding: City of Vienna, PSD Vienna
    Principal Investigator
  • Triggers Online Resulting in Non-Suicidial Self-Injury (2021)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), KLIF
    Principal Investigator
  • Understanding social development from childhood to adulthood using new ecological methods (2020)
    Source of Funding: Medical University of Vienna, CCP Starter Grant
    Principal Investigator

Selected publications

  1. Kothgassner, O.D. et al. (2021) ‘Efficacy of dialectical behavior therapy for adolescent self-harm and suicidal ideation: a systematic review and meta-analysis’, Psychological Medicine, 51(7), pp. 1057–1067. Available at:
  2. Kothgassner, O.D. et al. (2021) ‘Hydrocortisone administration for reducing post-traumatic stress symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis’, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 126, p. 105168. Available at:
  3. Kothgassner, O.D. et al. (2019) ‘Virtual reality exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a meta-analysis’, European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 10(1). Available at:
  4. Kothgassner, O.D. et al. (2021) ‘Habituation of salivary cortisol and cardiovascular reactivity to a repeated real-life and virtual reality Trier Social Stress Test’, Physiology & Behavior, 242, p. 113618. Available at:
  5. Kothgassner, O.D. et al. (2016) ‘Salivary cortisol and cardiovascular reactivity to a public speaking task in a virtual and real-life environment’, Computers in Human Behavior, 62, pp. 124–135. Available at: