Using Virtual Worlds to Train Healthcare Workers - A Case Study Using Second Life to Improve the Safety of Inpatient Transfers

Ann Merete Duedal Jensen, Merete Martlev Jensen, Anne Sofie Korsager, Mei-sing Ong, Farah Magrabi, Enrico Coiera


Virtual worlds such as Second Life may offer a new environment to deliver simulation-based safety training to clinicians. The objective of this study was to design and implement a simulation of inpatient transfers in the virtual world of Second Life, and to undertake a preliminary evaluation of its usability as an educational tool.

A simulation of inpatient transfer was developed using the Linden Scripting Language in Second Life. A virtual hospital was built and four scenarios of inpatient transfer varying in mode of transport (bed, trolley or wheelchair) and infection control precautions (no-infection, droplet, contact or airborne infection) were implemented.

System usability was assessed using a “think aloud” protocol in combination with surveys and interviews with 15 participants who found the simulation environment easy to use, and fit for purpose. The novelty of using a virtual world was regarded as an advantage over other training methods, as was the opportunity to learn and practice inpatient transfers while receiving instant feedback during the process. Participants agreed that simulation has potential to improve awareness about hand hygiene and prevent errors.

Second Life was able to support the development of a virtual environment for patient safety training. Results from preliminary usability tests indicate acceptance of the simulation environment. Further investigation is required to evaluate usability with a representative group and determine if training porters in a virtual world will reduce errors in the real world.


Patient Transfer; Computer Simulation; Online Systems; Computer-Assisted Instruction/ Methods; Virtual Systems

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::::::::::::::  eJHI - electronic Journal of Health Informatics - ISSN 1446-4381  ::::::::::::::

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