Dataset for "Virtual Reality Education on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis for Medical Students and Healthcare Professionals: A Pilot Study"



Dataset for paper entitled "Virtual Reality Education on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis for Medical Students and Healthcare Professionals: A Pilot Study."

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a chronic condition which may be characterised by debilitating fatigue, post-exertional malaise, unrefreshing sleep, and cognitive difficulties. ME/CFS has significant negative impact on quality of life for those living with the condition. This may be exacerbated by a lack of knowledge within healthcare regarding the condition. Previous research has found that immersive virtual reality (VR) educational experiences within healthcare education can increase knowledge and empathy.

The present study employed a quasi-experimental pre-test-post-test design to investigate the impact of a short immersive VR educational experience on knowledge of ME/CFS and empathy for those living with the condition. The VR experience placed participants into a virtual scene which told real life stories of the experience of people living with ME/CFS and their families. 43 participants completed in this pilot study: 28 medical students and 15 primary care health professionals. Participants completed measures of knowledge of ME/CFS and empathy before and after engagement with the experience.

A statistically significant increase was found for levels of knowledge (p < .001, d = 0.74) and empathy (p < .001, d = 1.56) from pre-VR experience levels to post-VR experience levels with a medium and large effect size, respectively. Further analysis revealed no statistically significant difference between baseline levels of knowledge of ME/CFS between healthcare professionals and medical students.

The present study is the first to explore the use of this short immersive VR experience as an education tool within healthcare to increase knowledge of ME/CFS, and empathy for those living with the condition. Findings allude to the previously established lack of knowledge of ME/CFS within healthcare although promisingly the increases in knowledge and empathy found suggest that this immersive VR experience has potential to address this. Such changes found in this small-scale pilot study suggest that future research into the use of VR as an educational tool within this setting may be beneficial. Use of a control group, and larger sample size as well as investigation of retention of these changes may also enhance future research.

Dataset for pre- and post-test scores on knowledge and empathy, as well as demographic details. Data has been coded and a codebook provided.
Date made availableJun 2024
PublisherQueen's University Belfast
Date of data productionMar 2023

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