Can virtual reality be used to conduct mass prophylaxis clinic training? A pilot program

Biosecur Bioterror. 2008 Mar;6(1):36-44. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2007.0038.


Objective: To create and evaluate a pilot bioterrorism defense training environment using virtual reality technology.

Methods: The present pilot project used Second Life, an internet-based virtual world system, to construct a virtual reality environment to mimic an actual setting that might be used as a Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) distribution site for northern California in the event of a bioterrorist attack. Scripted characters were integrated into the system as mock patients to analyze various clinic workflow scenarios. Users tested the virtual environment over two sessions.

Results: Thirteen users who toured the environment were asked to complete an evaluation survey. Respondents reported that the virtual reality system was relevant to their practice and had potential as a method of bioterrorism defense training.

Conclusions: Computer simulations of bioterrorism defense training scenarios are feasible with existing personal computer technology. The use of internet-connected virtual environments holds promise for bioterrorism defense training. Recommendations are made for public health agencies regarding the implementation and benefits of using virtual reality for mass prophylaxis clinic training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bioterrorism*
  • California
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation
  • Teaching* / methods
  • User-Computer Interface*