Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 534–539 | Cite as

Education About Hallucinations Using an Internet Virtual Reality System: A Qualitative Survey

  • Peter M. Yellowlees
  • James N. Cook
Using Technology to Teach Clinical Care



The authors evaluate an Internet virtual reality technology as an education tool about the hallucinations of psychosis.


This is a pilot project using Second Life, an Internet-based virtual reality system in which a virtual reality environment was constructed to simulate the auditory and visual hallucinations of two patients with schizophrenia. Eight hundred sixty-three self-referred users took a self-guided tour.


Five hundred seventy-nine (69%) of the users who toured the environment completed a survey. Of the survey responders, 440 (76%) thought the environment improved their understanding of auditory hallucinations 69% thought it improved their understanding of visual hallucinations, and 82% said they would recommend the environment to a friend.


Computer simulations of the perceptual phenomena of psychiatric illness are feasible with existing personal computer technology. Integration of the evaluation survey into the environment itself was possible. The use of Internet-connected graphics environments holds promise for public education about mental illness.


Schizophrenia Virtual Reality Academic Psychiatry Visual Hallucination Auditory Hallucination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Hoffman HG: Virtual-reality therapy. Sci Am 2004; 291: 58–65PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Zajtchuk R, Satava RM: Medical application of virtual reality. Comm ACM 2004; 40: 63–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Waterworth JA: Virtual reality in medicine: a survey of the state of the art. Accessed October 5, 2005
  4. 4.
    Hodges L, Anderson P, Burdea G, et al: Treating psychological and physical disorders with VR. IEEE Comput Graph Appl 2001:25-33Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    UMEA University VR Lab: Empathy as evoked by virtual reality technology progress report: Phase 1, unpublished Tech. Rep. number. 1999Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Piron L, Tonin P, Trivello E, et al: Motor tele-rehabilitation in post-stroke patients. Med Inform Internet Med 2004; 29: 119–125PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rizzo AA, Strickland D, Bouchard S: The challenge of using virtual reality in telerehabilitation. Telemed J E Health 2004; 10: 184–195PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hoffman HG, Richards TL, Bills AR, et al: Using fMRI to study the neural correlates of virtual reality analgesia. CNS Spectr 2006; 11: 45–51PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Rothbaum BO: Virtual reality in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. CNS Spectr 2006; 11: 876Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Caruso JB: Key Findings:: ECAR Study of Students and Information Technology: Convenience, Connection and Control 2004. Accessed October 5, 2005
  11. 11.
    Kaplan and Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 7th ed. Edited by Sadock BJ, Sadock VA. Baltimore, Md, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2000, pp 1169–99Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Banks J, Ericksson G, Burrage K, et al: Constructing the hallucinations of psychosis in virtual reality. J Network Computer App 2003; 27: 1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Banks J, Tichon J, Ericksson G, et al: A virtual environment to simulate the experience of psychosis. Proceedings of the VIIth Digital Image Computing, 2003Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Silberner J: The sights and sounds of schizophrenia. Accessed October 5, 2005
  15. 15. Accessed October 5, 2005
  16. 16.
    Active Worlds: 3D Chat, Virtual Reality Building Platform. Accessed October 5, 2005
  17. 17.
    The Gaming Open Market, Second Life L$ Market. Accessed October 5, 2005
  18. 18.
    Au WJ: A lever to move the mind. Accessed October 5, 2005
  19. 19.
    Doctorow C: Virtual schizophrenia comes to Second Life. Accessed October 5, 2005
  20. 20.
    Thompson C: Virtual schizophrenia. Accessed October 5, 2005
  21. 21.
    Letterie GS: How virtual reality may enhance training in obstetrics and gynecology. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2002; 187: S37–40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Baram Y, Miller A: Virtual reality cues for improvement of gait in patients with multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2006; 66: 178–181PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Tuggy ML: Virtual reality flexible sigmoidoscopy simulator training: impact on resident performance. J Am Board Fam Pract 1998; 11: 426–433PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California, DavisSacramentoUSA

Personalised recommendations