Research Horizons


Virtual Reality Training Improves HPV Vaccine Acceptance

Scientists at Cincinnati Children’s report using virtual reality technology to score a “VICTORI” in the battle against vaccine hesitancy.

Compared to a control group, pediatricians that participated in an intervention called Virtual Immersive Communication Training on Recommending Immunizations (VICTORI) demonstrated an 18% increase in HPV vaccine initiation rates.

Details were published online June 29, 2022, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Joe Real, MD, MEd, Division of General and Community Pediatrics, was first author. Brittany Rosen, PhD, MEd, Division of Adolescent and Transition Medicine, was senior author.

Improved uptake of the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) is important because HPV causes almost all cervical cancers and most vulvar, vaginal, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancer cases in the U.S. Despite these health threats, only 75% of youth aged 13–17 years have received an initial dose of the vaccine and just 59% are up to date with the multi-dose series.

Physicians play a vital role in recommending vaccinations, and yet many report feeling under-prepared to effectively counsel vaccine hesitant families. Thus, the Cincinnati Children’s team developed VICTORI to give physicians a safe, realistic environment to practice vaccine communication and receive feedback.

“In addition to the success achieved with HPV vaccination, there was a spillover effect to other adolescent vaccines, including those for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) and meningococcal infection (MCV4),” Real says. “Now we are creating a COVID-19 vaccine curriculum that similarly uses virtual reality simulations to allow providers to practice vaccine counseling behaviors. That curriculum will be implemented at Cincinnati Children’s this Fall.”

In addition to Real and Rosen, Cincinnati Children’s co-authors included Nicholas Ollberding, PhD, Andrea Meisman, MA, Dominick DeBlasio, MD, MEd, Mary Beth Pero, MD, David Davis, MFA, Bradley Cruse, MFA, Melissa Klein, MD, Med, and Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH.

Publication Information
Original title: Impact of a Virtual Reality Curriculum on Human Papillomavirus Vaccination: A Pilot Trial
Published in: American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Publish date: June 29, 2022
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Research By

Joe Real, MD, MEd
Division of General and Community Pediatrics
Brittany Rosen, PhD, MEd
Division of Adolescent and Transition Medicine