Relationship between demographic and social variables and performance in virtual reality among healthcare personnel: an observational study

Daniel Katz, Benjamin Hyers, Eric Patten, Darren Sarte, Mariano Loo, Garrett W. Burnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Virtual reality is emerging as an important component of medical education. Although the benefits of virtual reality are apparent, the optimal strategy to orient to or differentiate learners in the virtual space have not been delineated. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between demographic variables, social variables, and self-perceived comfort with technology to performance on a standardized non-medical virtual reality experience. Methods: This observational study was performed at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare in 2022. This conference includes medical and non-medical attendees. Participants provided demographic information and participated in a scored non-medical VR experience due to the heterogeneity of the sample. Participants then completed a System Usability Index and NASA Task Load Index form. Participants were dividedintolow scoring, medium scoring, and high scoring groups according to their final game score for further analysis. Results: 95 participants were included in final analysis. 55 (57.9%) of participants had prior virtual reality experience. Higher scores were associated with younger age (11.09, p < 0.001), identifying as male (11.09, p < 0.001), and a higher frequency of playing video games in the past (18.96, p < 0.001). The high score group was more likely to report comfort with virtual reality (6.29, p = 0.003) as well as comfort with new technology (4.61, p = 0.012). NASA Task Load Index scores trended down and System Usability Index scores trended up with increasing score. Being a nurse was a positive predictor of a higher score when compared to physicians in the multivariate analysis. Conclusion: Performance during an immersive virtual reality experience was most closely related to age, gender, and frequency of playing video games. Self-perceived comfort with virtual reality was more predictive of score than prior virtual reality experience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number227
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


  • Adult learners
  • Medical education
  • Mixed reality
  • Virtual reality


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