Based on a latest study conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia and Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Virtual Reality stimulation can help to witness the spread of flu and its impact on others. This could further help in encouraging more people to get a flu vaccination.
This is the first research dedicated to immersive virtual reality as a communication tool in order to increase flu vaccination rates among “flu vaccine avoidant” adults between the age 18 to 49-year olds.
According to Glen Nowak, virtual reality helps in understanding health issues. It can for instance, help people to understand the possible effects of their decisions such as the effects of not getting a flu vaccine.
The recent study applied immersive virtual reality to show people three outcomes. For instance, how others can be infected by flu, the effects of flu on older people and younger children, and how vaccination can help protect people.
In the study, 171 people participated, these were self-identified and the ones who had not received a flu shot in the last year and who also did not plan to get one during the 2017-18 influenza season.
For the experiment, participants were assigned to random groups, these included a five-minute virtual reality experience; a five-minute video similar to the VR experience, without the 3 dimensional and interactive elements; an e-pamphlet with text and pictures from the video displayed on a tablet computer and a control condition which only viewed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza Vaccination Information Statement.
Furthermore, the participants also answered a few questions based on flu vaccination and whether they would get a flu vaccination.
Participants could witness the VR experience with the help of headsets which helped them to experience information and events through video controllers which also allowed them to participate in the story. The VR condition helped the participants to feel present in the story, this in return also made the participants aware about transmitting the flu to others.
The study has highlighted the scope of virtual reality in health communication.