The Application of Virtual Reality in Patient Education

Ann Vasc Surg. 2019 Aug;59:184-189. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2019.01.015. Epub 2019 Apr 19.


Background: Virtual reality (VR) provides an immersive image-viewing experience that has recently been expanding in use in clinical medicine. We developed a three-dimensional (3D) model of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) for patients with a diagnosis of an AAA to view in VR to assess the use of VR in patient education.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study using an educational intervention. A standardized 3D model of an AAA was generated from a computed tomography scan and uploaded onto a 3D image-hosting website. Patients with an AAA who participated in the study wore a Google Cardboard VR headset, with a mobile device displaying the digital 3D AAA image in VR. Patients completed a survey afterward for assessing satisfaction with VR on a 5-point agreement Likert scale.

Results: Between September 2017 and January 2018, 19 patients participated in our study (90% participation rate). Most participants had no prior experience with VR (n = 15; 79%), and the mean age was 69 ± 8 years. Seventeen (89%) participants agreed or strongly agreed that they felt better informed about their health status after using VR and would like to see VR used more in their health care, while sixteen (84%) agreed or strongly agreed that they felt more engaged in their health care because of using VR. Almost all participants felt comfortable using VR (n = 17; 90%) and enjoyed using the technology (n = 16; 84%).

Conclusions: VR proved to be an engaging learning tool that patients perceived as beneficial in understanding their health status. Further efforts to investigate the role of VR in education and health care should be explored.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / therapy
  • Aortography / methods
  • Comprehension
  • Computed Tomography Angiography
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Communication
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Virtual Reality*