VR in Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness
By Mohammed Akel (Spring 2023)
Virtual reality (VR) technology has been used in several ways to aid pandemic prevention and preparedness efforts. These efforts include, but are not limited to: training of healthcare workers and students, remote and immersive collaboration and communication, development of drugs and treatments., facilitating everyday rhythm and contactless, mental health and well-being as well as simulations and modeling. The section below summarizes some of the systematic reviews conducted on the intersection between Virtual Reality technology and pandemic prevention and preparedness.
Virtual Reality for Health Care Professionals During a Pandemic: A Pilot Program by Croghan et al (2022)
Citation: Croghan IT, Hurt RT, Aakre CA, et al. Virtual Reality for Health Care Professionals During a Pandemic: A Pilot Program. Journal of Primary Care & Community Health. 2022;13. doi:10.1177/21501319221086716
the purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the safety and use of a nature-based virtual reality (VR) experience among healthcare providers (HCP) during a pandemic.
the intervention consisted of viewing 2 nature-based scenes
outcomes measured were safety, acceptability, and changes in the intensity of anxiety feelings, resilience, emotional distress, cognitive function, and self-efficacy
concludes that the use of VR among HCP has promise for reducing stress among health care providers during a high-stress period, such as a pandemic but much larger studies are needed
Design of a Virtual Reality Interactive Training System for Public Health Emergency Preparedness for Major Emerging Infectious Diseases: Theory and Framework by Yue et al (2021)
Citation: Luo, Y., Li, M., Tang, J., Ren, J. L., Zheng, Y., Yu, X. L., Jiang, L. R., Fan, D. L., & Chen, Y. H. (1970, January 1). Design of a virtual reality interactive training system for Public Health Emergency Preparedness for major emerging infectious diseases: Theory and framework. JMIR Serious Games. Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://search.bvsalud.org/global-literature-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/resource/en/covidwho-1595545
This study designed a virtual reality interactive training system (VRITS) to provide an effective path for improving PHEP (public health emergency preparedness) in the context of MEIDs so that the public can effectively respond to and recover from MEIDs (major emerging infectious diseases).
users control virtual characters to move in various scenes, and then identify and analyze the controllability and harmfulness of the evolving pandemic and select the correct prevention and control strategy to avoid infecting themselves and others
CULTIVATE initiative to combat unequal treatment in healthcare through virtual awareness and training in empathy by the Pandemic Initiative for equity and action at UCS
uses virtual reality (VR) to deliver diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training to healthcare providers
researchers want to find out if virtual reality can be used in medical education to interrupt the impact of implicit bias
Effect of virtual reality simulation training on the response capability of public health emergency reserve nurses in China: a quasiexperimental study by zhang et al (2021)
Citation: Zhang D, Liao H, Jia Y, et alEffect of virtual reality simulation training on the response capability of public health emergency reserve nurses in China: a quasiexperimental studyBMJ Open 2021;11:e048611. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-048611
participants underwent a 3-month training. The control group received the conventional training of emergency response (eg, theoretical lectures, technical skills, and psychological training), while the intervention group underwent the virtual reality simulation training in combination with skills training
After the intervention, the scores of the relevant knowledge, the capacity of emergency care, and disaster preparedness in the intervention group significantly increased
concluded that the virtual reality simulation training in combination with technical skills training can improve the response capacity of emergency reserve nurses as compared with the conventional training
Virtual Reality Simulation for Disaster Preparedness Training in Hospitals: Integrated Review by Jung (2022)
Citation: Jung Y Virtual Reality Simulation for Disaster Preparedness Training in Hospitals: Integrated Review. J Med Internet Res 2022;24(1):e30600. URL: https://www.jmir.org/2022/1/e30600.DOI: 10.2196/30600
Virtual reality simulation (VRS) technology may offer a viable training alternative with its inherent features of reproducibility, just-in-time training, and repeatability
examines the scientific evidence pertaining to the effectiveness of VRS and its practical usefulness in training healthcare professionals for in-hospital disaster preparedness
The integrated review process resulted in 12 studies being included. Principle findings identified 3 major capabilities of VRS:
to realistically simulate the clinical environment and medical practices related to different disaster scenarios
to develop learning effects on increased confidence and enhanced knowledge acquisition
to enable cost-effective implementation of training programs
There is a number of other studies available online. Pubmed, Embase, and other scientific databases are good places to start from. Overall, VR/AR technology can be a valuable tool in pandemic prevention and preparedness by providing a safe, immersive, stable, and resources-efficient way to train healthcare workers and students, educate the public about transmission and mitigation measures, facilitate remote communication and collaboration between teams and centers, monitor, track and simulate the spread of a pandemic, and promote mental health and wellbeing during times of stress and uncertainty.
For more information on how VR technology was used during the SARS-COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the "VR & COVID-19 Pandemic."