IMR Press / JOMH / Volume 18 / Issue 8 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jomh1808162
Open Access Original Research
Next-Generation Patient Education: Pilot Program Introduces Virtual Reality for Men's Preventive Health
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1 Division of Executive Health, Tufts University School of Medicine, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Burlington, MA 01805, USA
*Correspondence: bruce.b.campbell@lahey.org (Bruce B Campbell)
J. Mens. Health 2022, 18(8), 162; https://doi.org/10.31083/j.jomh1808162
Submitted: 14 December 2021 | Revised: 9 February 2022 | Accepted: 23 February 2022 | Published: 22 July 2022
Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license.
Abstract

Background: Preventive interventions designed to educate men to embrace healthier lifestyles are urgently needed to mitigate the risk of diseases correlated to lifestyle and habits. Virtual reality (VR) technologies offer an immersive visual, tactile, and kinesthetic educational experience, for which male learning style preference may exist. We developed a VR-based cardiovascular health educational session, embedded within a comprehensive annual physical examination, under the hypothesis that VR is both engaging, and effectively educates patients about heart disease. Methods: 208 male patients presenting to a preventive health center were invited to participate in a VR educational session for cardiovascular health and risk education. Exclusion criteria included claustrophobia, light-induced migraines, dizziness, and seizure disorder. Before participating, subjects answered a brief cardiovascular health knowledge assessment. Following the session, they answered an equivalent knowledge assessment, and a survey regarding the experience. Results: Of potential enrollees, 179 (86%) elected to proceed with the VR experience. Reasons for decline included time constraints, apprehension, and no interest. Among participants, 7 (4%) aborted due to: headache (2), claustrophobia (1), and discomfort related to wearing large glasses in the VR headset (4). The initial proportion of correct responses by question demonstrated a median of 56.7% (range 17.7% to 79.7%); following the VR session, a significant rise to 96.7% (range 93.5% to 98.7%) was detected (p = 0.016). Survey results were uniformly positive; 100% of respondees strongly agreed (78%) or agreed (22%) that the VR experience was enjoyable and worthwhile, on a 5-point Likert scale. Conclusions: A VR-based educational program has been incorporated into an annual comprehensive physical examination session, and ultimately may provide education benefits for men. The VR experience was rated very positively and resulted in statistically significant improvements in knowledge around cardiovascular health. Future direct comparisons between these next-generation and traditional patient education methods will establish whether VR approaches offer benefits over traditional patient education methods.

Keywords
men's health
preventive health
virtual reality patient education
cardiovascular disease
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