Date Presented 04/21/2023

This study found that virtual reality significantly reduced stress levels after a high-stakes exam or lab practical. This is meaningful because of the prevalence of stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions among current graduate students.

Primary Author and Speaker: Scott Truskowski

Additional Authors and Speakers: Jordan Lanning, Madeline McIntyre, Nicole Novak

Contributing Authors: Kristin Everhart

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of virtual reality immersion on the graduate students’ self-reported stress levels between completion of a high-stakes assessment and receiving results or feedback.

DESIGN: This pilot study used a pre and post survey design. Convenience sampling was used to recruit graduate students with little experience with virtual reality and who had recently completed an assessment of learning without receiving a grade. Participants selected one of three virtual reality experiences-mindfulness, low physical exertion, or high physical exertion-based upon their preferred method of stress relief.

METHOD: Data were collected utilizing an online survey platform that allowed participants to self-rate their stress level prior to and immediately after a 10-15 minute immersive virtual reality experience. The non-parametric Sign test was used to determine if there were consistent differences between reported pre and post stress scores.

RESULTS: Nine of the 10 participants reported a lower stress score after the virtual reality experience. The sign test showed a statistically significant difference after virtual reality (p< 0.0004).

CONCLUSION: Virtual reality appears to have a positive effect on the stress levels of graduate students. This proposal is significant to occupational therapy education due to the prevalence of stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions among current students. Virtual reality has the potential to serve as an additional means for students and faculty to address the self-reported stress levels of graduate students.


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