Ready student one: Simulation-based education, virtual reality, and the perception of stress

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Aim: To investigate differences in the physiological perception of physiotherapy student stress undergoing two types of simulated environments.

Design: Quasi-experimental

Methods: Students enrolled in a Doctor of Physiotherapy program were subjected to two stressors: a neurological patient simulation (SIM) and a free-roaming virtual reality (VR) immersive gaming scenario. Physiological parameters including respiratory rate, heart rate, skin temperature, salivary cortisol, and α- amylase were collected prior to, immediately post, and 15, 30, and 60 minutes after each scenario. NASA- task load index (TXL) assessed participants’ perceptions of stress prior to, and at the end of, each scenario. Repeated measures linear mixed model analysed the impact of sampling time, stressor, and their interaction on the physiological parameters and NASA-TXL.

Results: The VR experience elicited a marked increase in cortisol concentration (1.7nmol/L SE 0.8, p=0.045) from baseline, but not α-amylase, levels immediately after the task. The SIM experience did not influence the concentration of salivary stress markers, although α-amylase concentrations were higher in samples obtained pre-SIM compared to pre-VR samples. NASA-TXL results indicated that students perceived themselves as performing worst and being more stressed, frustrated, and insecure prior to, and after, the SIM compared to the VR task.

Conclusion: The SIM scenario had a greater anticipatory perceived stress while the VR immersive gaming experience highlighted greater post-event physiological response to stress.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2023
EventAustralian Physiotherapy Association: INGNITE Physiotherapy Conference 2023 - Brisbane Convention Centre, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 5 Oct 20237 Oct 2023


ConferenceAustralian Physiotherapy Association
Abbreviated titleINGNITE 2023
OtherWe have the chance to take physiotherapy to new levels and ignite the future of the profession through innovation and collaboration. Barriers can be broken down and communities connected.

Physiotherapists can look to the future and commit to excellence and equality, for themselves and the profession. Challenges can be made and met, passions ignited for what is possible.

We can evolve and explore the possibilities and make sure that physiotherapy comes out better than ever before.

By igniting your imagination, great things can be achieved!
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