Virtual Reality in Medical Education

Virtual Reality in Medical Education

Ahmet B. Ustun (Bartin University, Turkey), Ramazan Yilmaz (Bartin University, Turkey) and Fatma Gizem Karaoglan Yilmaz (Bartin University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2521-0.ch004


The aim of this research is to examine student acceptance and use of virtual reality technologies in medical education. Within the scope of the research, a questionnaire consisting of 4 sub-dimensions and 21 items was developed by the researchers. This questionnaire consists of sub-dimensions of performance expectancy, effort expectancy, facilitating conditions, and social influence. The study was conducted on 421 university students who participated in courses and activities related to the use of virtual reality applications in medical education. The findings of the research demonstrated that the students' acceptance and use of virtual reality applications were high in medical education. Various suggestions were made for researchers and educators in accordance with the findings.
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Although Virtual Reality (VR) has been used in a few fields such as some sectors in the military since the 1970s, technological advances have recently made the accessibility of VR affordable and the use of it prevalent now (Beheiry et al., 2019). While the affordability of it has increased its usage among prospective customers, it has evolved to become a sophisticated technology that immerses a user in a virtual environment that is getting similar to reality, which even draws non-consumer attention towards this technology. It can be seen as a technological revolution that leads to the triumph of 3-D environments. Therefore, it is widely used in fields such as healthcare, military and education.

The popularity of VR increases in the realm of medicine. Many researchers emphasize the use of VR in healthcare as a potentially effective tool that provides innovative techniques for clinical practice settings. Morel, Bideau, Lardy, and Kulpa (2015) state that standardization, reproducibility and stimuli control are the benefits of the VR system in clinical assessment and rehabilitation. The use of VR technology offers a standardized virtual environment in which stimuli can be controlled to accurately evaluate the balance recovery of patients and their progression, and this standardized environment can be reproducible to make comparisons among patients in the same condition or between the trials of patients (Morel et al., 2015). Also, the accessibility and affordability of VR technologies are easier with the commencing mass production of low-cost devices so rehabilitation can be continued anywhere, anytime in motivating and entertaining virtual environments (Morel et al., 2015; Riener, & Harders, 2012).

Rose, Nam and Chen (2018) indicate that VR technologies have been employed in treatments of physical impairments as an emerging rehabilitation technology for those who suffer from “stroke (Jack et al., 2001), cerebral palsy (Reid, 2002), severe burns (Haik et al., 2006), Parkinson's disease (Mirelman et al., 2010), Guillain-Barré syndrome (Albiol-Pérez et al., 2015), and multiple sclerosis (Fulk, 2005) among others” (p. 153). This aligns with the comprehensive systematic review study conducted by Ravi, Kumar and Singhi (2017) who state that the utilization of VR technologies in therapeutic interventions for children and adolescents suffering from cerebral palsy is a promising intervention in order to make improvement in balance and overall motor capabilities. VR technology can also be used in psychotherapy. The use of VR applications has been proved as an effective treatment for phobias through the processes of habituation and extinction (Riva, 2005). In the VR treatment of phobias, patients are exposed to controlled, fear-provoking stimuli to gradually alleviate the anxiety in the realistic environment.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Simulation: A simulation is an imitation of a real-world process in a controlled environment.

Virtual Reality Immersion: Virtual reality immersion is the perception of being physically present in a non-physical world ( Mukkamala & Madhusudhanan, 2016 )

UTAUT Model: UTAUT Model is the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology that is used for explanation of user perception and acceptance behavior. ( Venkatesh et al., 2003 ).

Effort Expectancy: The degree of ease associated with the use of the system ( Venkatesh et al., 2003 , p. 450).

Virtual Reality: Virtual reality is computer-generated simulations of three or more dimensions created by modelling of real objects or environments. Users can interact with these computer-generated simulations through their senses such as vision, hearing and touch and experience realistic objects by controlling them ( Karaoglan Yilmaz & Yilmaz, 2019 ).

Social Influence: The degree to which an individual perceives that important others believe he or she should use the new system ( Venkatesh et al., 2003 , p. 451).

Acceptance of Augmented Reality: Students’ behavioral status of acceptance and adaptation with regard to usage of augmented reality technologies with the educational purpose.

Augmented Reality: Augmented reality is a set of technologies that superimpose a computer-generated image(s) on the physical world, therefore providing a simultaneously mixed experience of virtual objects and the real world.

Virtual World: A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment.

Acceptance of Virtual Reality: Students’ behavioral status of acceptance and adaptation with regard to usage of virtual reality technologies with the educational purpose.

Facilitating conditions: The degree to which an individual believes that an organizational and technical infrastructure exists to support use of the system ( Venkatesh et al., 2003 , p. 453).

Performance Expectancy: The degree to which an individual believes that using the system will help him or her to attain gains in job performance ( Venkatesh et al., 2003 , p. 447).

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