Acceptability and effectiveness of a 3D virtual reality cardiovascular lesson

02 September 2019
Volume 9 · Issue 3



The aim is to describe a preliminary pilot incorporating 3D virtual reality (VR) into a cardiovascular problem-based learning (PBL) lesson.


A paramedic cohort of students (n=19) took part in a 12-lesson anatomy and physiology module. Multiple choice question results from the cardiovascular PBL lesson were compared with the multiple choice question results from other organ system PBL lessons. In addition, a questionnaire was answered by 15 students assessing acceptability of the lesson.


The authors found that when students used VR materials, they achieved significantly better results compared with the non-VR lessons. Over 80% of students thought that VR-based PBL exercises brought the cardiovascular anatomy to life and was a useful learning tool.


The use of VR in a PBL learning environment has a significant positive effect on the performance of the students and is valued by students as useful. It may therefore be beneficial to integrate VR-based learning into emergency medicine training.

Interactive virtual reality (VR) models that allow the user to inspect and manipulate computer-generated real or fabricated three-dimensional (3D) sensory environments in real-time are becoming widely used in health professions teaching (Roth et al, 2015; de Boer et al, 2017). Sometimes VR and simulation are used interchangeably; the authors consider a VR learning experience to include the following characteristics:

  • A virtual world
  • Immersion
  • Sensory feedback
  • Interactivity.
  • VR experiences can be delivered to participants in a variety of ways, including computer or mobile device screens, and in VR rooms using head-mounted displays (McGaghie et al, 2010), which is the basis of the present study.

    In health profession education, a small number of studies report the use of VR and it is predominantly used for educational motor skills training such as surgery, clinical testing of protocols and undergraduate medical anatomical training (Pensieri and Pennacchini, 2014; Kockro et al, 2015; Kim et al, 2017; Joda et al, 2019). However, the authors are not aware of any studies describing its use in teaching paramedical anatomy and physiology.

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