Promoting health in a virtual world: Impressions of health communication messages delivered in Second Life

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First Monday, ISSN: 1396-0466, Vol: 16, Issue: 9

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Joan E. Cowdery; Jeannette Kindred; Anna Michalakis; L. Suzanne Suggs
University of Illinois Libraries
Computer Science
article description
The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the use of the online virtual world Second Life (SL) for the delivery of health communication messages designed to encourage individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices regarding physical activity and nutrition. Research questions addressed participants' impressions of the usefulness and relevance of health information received via an online virtual world and participants' overall impressions of an online health education intervention program. Forty individuals participated in a health education intervention and completed a post-test survey. Four focus groups were also held, one in real life and three in Second Life and included a total of 28 participants. Overall, participants rated the health intervention positively, found the information useful in helping them think about changing their health behaviors, and reported finding the information easy to understand and personally relevant. Participants were also consistent in reporting they found the use of Second Life to be a unique and novel approach for the delivery of health information. © 2011, First Monday.