Developing and Testing a Soft-Skills Virtual Reality Dental Training Tool
Objectives: The objective of this study was to develop and test the use of a virtual reality(VR) training tool which mimics the visual, physical and auditory experience of increasingly frail dental patients with complex needs visiting a dentist and receiving oral health advice.
Methods: A dental environment simulation was co-developed by clinicians, educators and VR experts. Training dental professionals from the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy and King’s College London were engaged in a before and after experimental design (n=39). First, a baseline knowledge and confidence open and close-ended questionnaire was administered. Second, the VR Simulation was experienced. Third, a post simulation questionnaire was administered to evaluate similar parameters as the baseline questionnaire and views on the simulation. The data were analysed descriptively and using Paired-Samples t-test to compare before and after simulation scores. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: A five minute interactive simulation was developed. Thirty nine students took part in testing the simulation; Dental Students (23%) and Dental Care Professionals (77%). Of these, 76.9% had treated at least one increasingly frail patient and 28.2% felt inadequately trained to treat them. Although less, 56.3%, were confident in prevention before compared to after simulation (69.2%), there was a significant difference in the mean confidence scores on provision of preventive advice; Before simulation (M=4.64, SD=1.02) and After simulation (M=4.08, SD=1.23) conditions; t (30)= 2.615, p = 0.013. Majority (84.6%) found the simulation helpful and would like more simulation training. Participants identified other areas they would like VR training on such as medical emergencies, breaking bad news, paediatric patient management and anxiety
Conclusions: The findings indicate that the tool significantly portrayed the patients’ experience and changed the perspective of participants on their own practice. Future work to develop both ideal practice scenarios with more advanced avatars would be welcomed by training dental professionals.