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Developing Providers' Communication and Counseling Skills in Cancer Genetics Using Virtual Reality

18 Years
Open (Enrolling)
Cancer, Prevention Harmful Effects

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Trial Information

Developing Providers' Communication and Counseling Skills in Cancer Genetics Using Virtual Reality

If you agree to take part in this study, you will complete questionnaires, have your
physiological measurements recorded, and view virtual reality scenes.


You will fill out questionnaires before and after viewing the virtual reality scenes.
Before viewing the virtual reality scenes, you will answer questions about your demographic,
educational and professional background and about the likelihood of becoming engaged in a
virtual environment. After viewing the virtual reality scenes, you will answer questions to
evaluate the scenes. You also will be asked to provide additional comments about the
virtual reality scenes during a brief interview. In total, these questionnaires should take
about 30 minutes total to complete.

Physiological Measurements:

Your heart rate and the amount you sweat will be recorded during the virtual reality scene
(described below) by applying small sensors to your skin.

After you have completed the first set of questionnaires, you will sit in a recliner and the
sensors will be placed on your rib cage and hand. The sensors that measure heart rate will
be placed in the following locations: your lower left rib cage, just under your right collar
bone, and just under your left collar bone. The sensors that measure the amount you sweat
will be placed on the palm of your hand.

The Virtual Reality Scenes:

You will sit in a recliner and be asked to put on a virtual reality helmet, which has
goggles and noise-cancelling headphones. You will be told how to wear the helmet and use the
hand-held controller.

You will first view a sample virtual reality scene to help orient you to the technology.
The experience of virtual reality may involve multiple senses. For example, you may hear,
smell, and feel sensations (such as mild vibrations) that are associated with the scenes
you are viewing.

After you become comfortable using the technology, you will view a virtual reality scenario
that depicts a typical session in cancer genetic counseling. The scenario will depict a
virtual patient who is being seen for genetic counseling. You will be encouraged to speak
to and interact with the virtual patient as you would with a real patient. The interaction
with the virtual patient will be recorded. It is estimated that you will spend about 30
minutes in the genetic counseling scene with the virtual patient.

After the scene has ended, the equipment and sensors will be removed, and you will be asked
to complete the second set of questionnaires and the brief interview.

It is expected that it will take up to 2 hours to complete all study procedures.

This is an investigational study.

Up to 21 people will take part in this study at M. D. Anderson.

Inclusion Criteria:

1. Genetic counselors: Board-eligible or board-certified genetic counselor

2. Genetic counseling students: Currently enrolled and in good standing in an accredited
genetic counseling degree program

3. 18 years of age or older

Exclusion Criteria:

1. Non-English speaking

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Observational Model: Cohort, Time Perspective: Prospective

Outcome Measure:

Proof of concept for Virtual Reality (VR) Technology as Training Method About Hereditary cancer risk and genetic testing

Outcome Description:

Proof of concept for VR application established if VR prototype successfully evokes a sense of presence and co-presence (measured by the PQ and CPQ questionnaires, respectively). Responses to the PQ and CPQ given on a 7-point scale, with higher scores indicating higher degrees of presence and co-presence where mean scores above 4 considered high degree of presence and co-presence.

Outcome Time Frame:

2 hours

Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

Susan Peterson, PHD, MPH

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

UT MD Anderson Cancer Center


United States: Institutional Review Board

Study ID:




Start Date:

February 2011

Completion Date:

Related Keywords:

  • Cancer
  • Prevention Harmful Effects
  • Genetic counselor
  • Genetic counseling degree program
  • Genetic counseling students
  • Virtual reality-based intervention
  • VR
  • Genetic counseling
  • hereditary cancers
  • Questionnaires
  • Physiological measurements
  • Skin sensors



UT MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, Texas  77030