Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Based Immersive Training for Education of Health Professionals: a Systematic Review
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
Virtual Reality (VR) refers to computer generated artificial environment in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment. In medical education and training, VR simulators use computer-generated objects on computer interface and allow the trainee or student to manipulate objects to receive feedback on the performance. The purpose of this thesis is to synthesize evidence on the effectiveness of different virtual reality based immersive training tools for health professionals. A systematic review of the literature was conducted to assess the effectiveness of VR tools in the training of health professionals. A focused search of literature resulted in an initial retrieval of 1379 relevant titles and abstracts of peer reviewed publications. All retrieved articles were initially evaluated based on titles and abstracts to identify studies to be retained for further analysis based on full text appraisal, using the Participant-Intervention-Comparator-Outcome (PICO) criteria. After review of titles and abstract, a total of 24 publications were selected for final review. Of the 24 studies identified as eligible, one was a meta-analysis, another was a systematic review, two were other types of reviews, ten were reports of Randomised Control Trials and eleven were observational or quasi-experimental studies. Critical appraisal of these studies resulted in identification of 12 different types of applications and nine overlapping ‘themes’ related to VR simulations and clinical skill training. In general, findings from this review indicate that, VR simulators can be considered a useful tool for improvement of clinical skills performance especially for novices with limited experience. In combination with existing opportunities to work with real patients, VR based training can increase the range of experience to learn about and deal with medical problems as learners and practitioners. The current evidence on the effectiveness of using VR training applications for improvement of clinical skills of health professionals is limited but sufficiently encouraging to justify additional clinical trials in this area. There remain several limitations in the research on the effectiveness of using VR training environments for health professionals. Further research work is required on role of virtual reality simulators in the transfer of skills, optimal VR applications and their technology for each discipline in medicine, economical success and other issues of VR usage, if medical skills laboratories are to remain an integral component of medical education.