The Use of Virtual Worlds and Animated Personas to Improve Healthcare Knowledge and Self-Care Behavior: The Case of the HEART-SENSE Game

  • B. G. Silverman
  • J. Holmes
  • S. Kimmel
  • C. Branas
  • D. Ivins
  • R. Weaver
Part of the Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing book series (STUDFUZZ, volume 98)


The goal of this project is to determine whether a computer based training game (HEART-SENSE) can improve recognition of heart attack symptoms and shift behavioral issues so as to reduce pre-hospitalization delay in seeking treatment and thereby reduce myocardial infarction mortality and morbidity. In Phase I we created and evaluated a prototype virtual village in which users encounter and help convince synthetic personas to deal appropriately with a variety of heart attack scenarios and delay issues. Innovations made here are: (1) a design for a generic simulator package for promoting health behavior shifts, and (2) algorithms for animated pedagogical agents to reason about how their emotional state ties to patient condition and user progress. Initial results show that users of the game exhibit a significant shift in intention to call 911 and avoid delay, that multi-media versions of the game foster vividness and memory retention as well as a better understanding of both symptoms and of the need to manage time during a heart attack event. Also, results provide insight into areas where emotive pedagogical agents help and hinder user performance. Finally, we conclude with next steps that will help improve the game and the field of pedagogical agents and tools for simulated worlds for healthcare education and promotion.


Heart Attack Virtual Patient Pedagogical Agent Computer Support Collaborative Learning Game Graph 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. G. Silverman
  • J. Holmes
  • S. Kimmel
  • C. Branas
  • D. Ivins
  • R. Weaver

There are no affiliations available

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