VR training to help diagnose and treat children's mental health
A VR simulation prepares future pediatricians for difficult conversations with children with behavioral health issues.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital is using virtual reality to train pediatric residents to perform psychiatric exams on children. In a VR simulation, future pediatricians are placed in a situation that is typical for their daily work. For example, this might be a conversation with a mother whose daughter exhibits a mental health disorder.
How does the VR simulation work?
The VR simulation gives pediatric residents the opportunity to test their skills in a realistic and controllable environment before meeting real patients.
The VR environment is modeled after a patient's room. The training is managed by a proctor who controls the virtual mother and daughter, adjusting facial expressions, gestures, and speech. The pediatricians in training can move freely around the room and talk to both of them.
In the process, the junior doctors have to consider various aspects, such as medical history, diagnosis, treatment options, and referral to specialists.
The simulation is divided into three parts. In the preliminary interview, the trainees receive information about the case, followed by the main interview, in which they have to interact with the mother and daughter. In the final follow-up interview, they receive feedback.
Advantages of the VR simulation
The simulation is intended to help residents develop more confidence and competence in dealing with children that have mental health disorders. They should learn to ask the right questions, react empathetically, and offer appropriate treatment options. In addition, it's important to recognize when a referral to specialists is necessary.
VR training for medical professionals isn't new. In Wales, a company is developing "Mediverse." The platform is designed to connect professionals and enable VR training from home. Researchers are also investigating the use of VR in the treatment of depression and anxiety.