Health Support Coalition forms in Second Life

I came across a low-key announcement in recent days that emphasises the growing realisation by professionals of Second Life’s potential in regard to health. If you use Second Life to undertake research or to provide health support, then the group below may be worth contacting. The event in question has passed but no doubt there’ll be further get-togethers.

Health workers are used to needing to form coalitions to instigate population-wide initiatives. Lag immunisations anyone?

“Dear Friends and Fellow Support Group Leaders,

The first meeting of the Health Support Coalition will be this Saturday, Feb. 2, from 8 to 10 am SLT. We will meet on the roof of the Heron Sanctuary office building on EduIsland 4.

This is a meet-and-greet. The purpose of this initial meeting is to learn more about each other’s groups. We will discuss how the coalition can best support our organizations, and begin planning future programs.

Bring some text material about your project (notecard is fine; could be your group charter, description from website, or explanation you give over and over), logo or other image identifying the group, and landmark if applicable.

Please join us for a productive morning meeting. We plan to collect information about all our groups and create some form of resources directory that will allow us to better serve our members. Help us ensure the accuracy of the information about the group you lead.

Again, please note that this gathering is solely for leaders of health support groups (if you’re thinking of starting one, we’d love to have you join us).

IM any of us inworld for a TP to the event site.

Your hostesses,
Carolina Keats
The Sojourner
Gentle Heron”

Virtual Association of Surgeons inaugural conference in Second Life

Surgical robotics is a highly specialised area of medicine. Even more specialised are those surgeons who’ll be holding their inaugural conference exclusively in Second Life. They’re the International Virtual Association of Surgeons (iVAS) and the full details are:

“The International Virtual Association of Surgeons (iVAS) is pleased to announce its inaugural conference. This will be held on 22nd April 2008, exclusively in Second Life.

The conference will be run in the same manner as a real-world conference, with key note addresses from internationally recognized leaders in the fields of surgical robotics, simulation and education. The editorial board consist of experts in the field from Imperial College London, Professor Ara Darzi and Professor Guang-Zhong Yang and Professor Blake Hannaford from the University of Washington.

The abstract call on surgical technology, robotics, simulation and education is primarily but not exclusively aimed at international surgical scientists. All submissions will be most welcome, and the deadline is on the 20th January 2008.

To be kept up to date please feel free to visit us on the Second Health island, join our group in world ( The Virtual Association of Surgeons) or visit our website.

Keep up the great work and have a happy New Year!

Many Thanks,

James Kinross and Julian Leong

(Lancelot Spitteler and Julian Nikolaides)

Mr Julian Leong MRCS
Programme Co-Chair
Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology,
Imperial College,
10th Floor, QEQM,
St. Mary’s Hospital,
London, UK
Tel: +447958277088
Fax: +442078866309

Mr James Kinross MRCS
Programme Co-Chair
Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology,
Imperial College,
10th Floor, QEQM,
St. Mary’s Hospital,
London, UK
Tel: +447989344238
Tel: +442078861947
Fax: +442078866309

The medical fraternity can be a conservative bunch, even the cutting edge specialties like surgical robotics. For such professionals to instigate conference proceedings in this manner shows the power of virtual worlds as an educational medium.

Study shows virtual sport no substitute – yet

A recently released study shows that physically active (read: Nintendo Wii) computer-based gaming did burn more energy than more passive gaming options. However, the level of increased activity wasn’t enough to meet the physical activity guidelines.

That result is no great surprise but the researchers were encouraging of the move toward more physically active gaming as a way of promoting broader physical activity measures. Personally, I’d love to see a way of linking physical activity to virtual worlds. Imagine the kilometres covered if you had to actually walk around World of Warcraft or Second Life? This has been done once but there’s no official development of such options that I’m aware of.

As far as further research, I’d be interested in analysis of the musculoskeletal benefits of more active gaming – that is, how much better is more active gaming for posture, bone strength and muscle flexibility? I’d wager the results would show that pretty much anything is better than slouching on the sofa playing passive console games. The health impact of virtual worlds is a keystone issue. The bulk of work to date has been on the mental health aspects but expect greater scrutiny of the physical as virtual worlds grow in popularity.

Thanks to Tony Walsh for the heads-up

Medical Training in Second Life

We’ve covered the growing health training focus in virtual worlds, particularly Second Life.

For the health professional who’s wondering about how medical training would work, there’s an excellent overview here.

As a health professional myself, I can see the benefits an immersive environment would bring. It won’t ever beat poring over a cadaver in real life but it’s going to be a greatly superior complement to real life training.

Update: the student version of the British Medical Journal is also running an article on medical training in Second Life

Contraception talk in Second Life

The University of Plymouth have an excellent presence in Second Life devoted to sexual health. AIDS / HIV awareness, sexually transmitted diseases and other sexual health topics are the focus. Their blog lists a lot of their activity. One upcoming event that may interest you:

“Barbara Hastings-Asatourian, Managing Director of Contraception Education and Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing at the University of Salford, is our guest speaker for the second seminar in our bimonthly sexual health seminar series.

Her seminar will be about Contraception, and will take place on 13 December 2007 at 8:00 PM (UK/GMT time = 12:00 PM/noon SLT) at the University of Plymouth Sexual Health SIM.

We are writing to invite you to attend this event. Please also forward to colleagues and friends who might be interested in attending. We will also have Christmas celebrations, a huge Christmas tree and much more at our SIM on the seminar day!”

Check it out in-world.

UK’s National Health Service and Second Life

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is the world’s largest public health system and it’s currently under review. Second Life will play a small role in the review according to a message on the SL Health list today:

“The NHS Next Stage Review in Second Life:

England’s National Health Service (NHS) is under review: The ‘Our NHS our future’ review. The NHS is England’s publicly-funded healthcare system, providing the vast majority of healthcare in the UK, which is based on clinical need and not the ability to pay. The Review provides an opportunity to ensure that the future of the NHS is clinically led and can meet the challenges of delivering healthcare over the next decade.

As a key component of the Review, on the 21st of November there will be an International Clinical Summit on pathways to care, where 1500 invited clinicians and physicians will be meeting in real life in London. But you can follow the meeting in Second Life or via the webcast. In Second Life you will be able to register your own opinions and meet and chat with the speakers.

This SL event will mainly be of interest to healthcare professionals, both within the UK and internationally. Our Second Health Auditorium can accommodate up to 50 avatars. If there is sufficient demand we will open a second auditorium, and you can always follow the Summit’s live webcast outside SL if we are over-subscribed. Text chat will be logged, and we may record video and audio portions of the in-world event for later playback.

Dates and times:

21 November 2007, 14:20-18:45 Greenwich Mean Time

21 November 2007, 06:20-10:45 Second Life Time (GMT-8)


Teleport straight to the presentation area

If the main auditorium is full, the overflow auditorium is here.

To take part in the text chat with speakers in the main auditorium, you will need to join the Second Health London group. This will be explained at the overflow auditorium.


14.20-14.30 Welcome and opening the event (CMO)

Overview of SHA engagement events (David Nicholson)

14.30-14.45 Objectives of the NHS Next Stage Review

14.45-15.00 Setting the scene – how to move the needle on health and health outcomes

15.00-16.00 Speaker Session One: High quality care across a healthcare system

David Levine from Montreal

Jack Cochran from Kaiser

Table discussion & questions

16.00-16.30 Tea Break (break in webcast)

16.30-17.30 Speaker Session Two: Examples of integrated care systems from abroad

Dr Schwartz from Westchester

Prof Schulte from Polikum

Table discussion & questions

17.30-18.30 Speaker Session Three: Examples of integrated care systems from UK

Dr O’Kelly from Tiverton

Dr Ian Rutter from Bradford

Table discussion & questions

18.30-18.45 Wrap up

Webcast: If the event is oversubscribed, or you can’t access SL, you can view the live webcast.”

Now if only Australia’s health systems could receive the same amount of attention….

NORML make the jump into Second Life

The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is an American organisation that has set up a presence in SL..


Who are NORML?:

“Since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana smokers. A nonprofit public-interest advocacy group, NORML represents the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly.”

A launch event is scheduled for September 6th at Noon SLT (5am on the 7th AEST) will feature a chat with NORML’s founder and Legal Counsel Keith Stroup, talking about NORML and answering questions plus “marijuana related music, NORML info and freebies.”

Whether you agree with the decriminalisation of cannabis or not, this may be a fascinating event to attend.

The Ann Myers Medical Center

The Ann Myers Medical Center (AMMC) is part of the Sprott-Shaw Community College islands.


The AMMC blog lists the presence’s goals as:

“1. Assist students to become more proficient in initial exam history and physicals. The patient often reveals many important aspects of their disorder through their words if the physician takes the time to listen. In this fast-paced world, med students are not being appropriately trained to listen.

2. A second aspect to the history and physical for Dr. Ann is attempting to train her students to truly care for their patients. Dr. Ann teaches her First Life students that they can heal simply by listening and caring. She often states to her students, “Laying a hand on a patient’s shoulder and honestly listening can heal more than any medication you can prescribe for a person.”

3. AMMC is attempting to link telemetric builds (ECG, oxygen saturation machines, etc.) to real-time outputs via URLs. Thus, a student will right click on an ECG machine and be taken to a URL, where they will have to accurately diagnose the medical issue through analysis of telemetric outputs.

4. In conjunction, we will be assisting students to become more proficient in the analysis of MRIs, CTs and X-rays.

5. AMMC will also be training Psychology students in various methodologies and treatment protocols, implementing Dr.Ann’s belief and research interest in psychoimmunobiology, the body’s ability to heal itself through the stimulation of the immune system to fight disease.”


The goals are more than worthy, and any strategy that increases the human focus of medical students is a very positive thing. The hospital itself consist of three floors and includes and operating theatre, recovery unit, birthing unit and examination cubicles. Aside from the technological learnings that could be enabled here, when SL becomes fully voice enabled the ‘bedside manner’ issues will probably provide the greatest educational gains. Of course, it’d be nice to know that Australian health professionals were being provided the same opportunities.


Check it out in-world

The Fake Doctor’s Association

“Ever wanted to impress someone by telling them you’re a doctor? Or have you ever wanted to be a doctor but lacked the time, money, and sheer will to go to school for it? Well not to worry! By joining The Fake Doctor’s Association, you get the title without all the fuss! Now you can finally tell people that you are in fact a person of medicine!”


That’s the description you’ll find for the Fake Doctor’s Association, which I was offered membership of late last year after a conversation with an FDA member. This week I received a Group Notice from FDA’s founder (pictured):

“Hello Doctors,

I have an assignment for all members of the Fake Doctor’s Association. This week, I want you to commit malpractice at least once and tell me about it.

To help you, here is an axe.

Janette Deakins
Founder, The Fake Doctor’s Association”

So if you see someone wielding an axe, they’re likely to be fake health professionals, so no need to be concerned.

Personal Boundaries in a virtual world

America’s National Public Radio (NPR) is running a story on SL called Don’t Stand So Close to Me. It looks specifically at the issue of personal space in SL and there’s some interesting, if not surprising results:

1. Male avatars tend to keep more distance from each other than when interacting with a female avatar

2. That there’s a natural tendency for users of SL to maintain real-life personal space boundaries

3. That the level of eye contact is intrinsically linked to personal space


The premise is that these issues are both hard-wired and ingrained in our real-life social behaviour that they naturally flow over to SL. As the social behaviour expert says in the interview – we’re not as free as we moght think we are in a virtual world. It’s also another example of how SL provides ample opportunity for human behaviour research.

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