Researchers awarded $1.2M to study effects of AR-based medical training

Researchers from the University of California Irvine (UCI) School of Medicine have received $1.2 million to study the potential psychological impact of augmented reality (AR) medical simulation training.

The two-year Assessment of the Psychological and Physiological Effects of Augmented Reality (APPEAR) study began in December 2019. The research team, through a partnership with Chenega Healthcare Services and MedCognition, will focus on how various AR prototypes for medical training affect the students using them. One specific aim is to establish how “pre-existing psychological traits or past stress experiences” might impact the simulation experience for trainees in the military.

“We will be using a MedCognition PerSim augmented reality medical simulation trainer to teach medical students about death and dying,” Shannon Toohey, MD, of UCI’s department of emergency medicine, said in a prepared statement. “We will evaluate the psychological and physiological effects of the augmented reality training on the students by measuring salivary cortisol levels, electrodermal activity and evaluating their affective state.”

“Assessing the physiological and psychological effects of AR prototypes for military medical simulations is imperative to the technological development and refinement needed to deliver effective solutions to the combat soldiers,” Sarah Pressman, PhD, a UCI professor of psychological science, said in the same statement. “The outcomes of this work will be used to ensure that.”