“The opportunity to develop empathy through engagement and presence in a VR/IVR simulation offers interest and relevance across all healthcare disciplines. Indeed, studies by Ogle et al. (2013) demonstrated that medical students with higher levels of empathy show greater clinical competence. Moyers et. al (2016) concluded that clients have better outcomes when treated by therapists with greater empathy. Parsons and Mitchell (2002) explored the potential of creating virtual environments to support those with autism-spectrum disorders. The review concluded that this ability to immerse individuals within these environments offers opportunities for individuals to practice behaviors within role-playing situations, and provides a safe environment to practice rule learning and repetition of tasks. They acknowledge that this flexible approach allowed for encouragement of problem-solving skills, and a greater understanding and increased awareness of the participants’ thoughts and feelings by the practitioners.

Regarding the reaction of participants to challenging situations, a significant question is whether negative emotional responses and actions to real-world situations can be reduced through IVR simulation training. While there has not been any work of this kind within healthcare, there has been work undertaken in the military that explores this area. Pallavicini et al. (2016) concluded that IVR could provide possibilities to assess individuals’ resilience to stress, as well as identifying the impact that stress may have on psychological reactions including empathy. They argue that the response to stressors makes it possible to train practitioners and to identify those that have resilient behaviors. The ability to create and recreate stressful scenarios using IVR has also been used successfully in disaster and emergency training (Feng et al. 2018). While these works focused on areas outside of healthcare, the possibility of exploring and applying these tools to healthcare education offers a significant opportunity.”

More here on Virtual Reality Application Used to Assess Emotional Response via Healthy Simulation.

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