December 13, 2017

Can VR Help Reduce Stress Levels in College Students?

Virtual Reality Degree at University of Advancing Technology

Can Virtual Reality (VR) help to reduce stress levels in college students? Let’s find out.

High school student Kristy Taing, who attends BASIS Chandler, is conducting her senior research project at UAT to study anxiety levels in college students. In working with UAT Game Studios Program Champion Derric Clark and game design students, Kristy has created a study that measures a students stress level before and after playing a short, relaxing VR game on the HTC Vive for a period of five minutes.

In order to measure the stress levels of students, Kristy used a Likert scale and blood pressure monitor to record the participants heart rate and blood pressure before and after exposure to the VR stimulus.

How did Kristy come up with this idea?

“I was interested in studying an interdisciplinary research topic, so I could explore multiple fields. I decided to combine two of my interests: health & wellness and technology,” Kristy said, “While devices like Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift are widely used for gaming, there are practical applications of VR technology in the healthcare fields as well. The research aims to investigate the feasibility of using VR technology to reduce anxiety, particularly in the college sphere. Mental health can be easily overlooked during the hustle and excitement of college years. Innovation that facilitates a smooth lifestyle transition may positively impact students’ well-being.”

The purpose of the study is to determine if there is a change in college students’ stress levels after having brief exposure to a soothing visual and auditory environment displayed on the HTC Vive.

Participant in Virtual Reality Study at University of Advancing Technology

Participant in Virtual Reality Study at University of Advancing Technology

Kristy plans to gather data for 3 weeks gathering data from at least 90 individual students from the University of Advancing Technology.

Throughout her research study planning and running, Kristy has been exposed to the the details and steps required for a valid research study. This is great experience for any further research in her future college pursuits. At the culmination of the study, Kristy plans to deliver a research report and presentation at BASIS Chandler.

Her research is important because it could serve as a precursor for further study about the use of virtual reality in healthcare. Studies in the future could use Kristy’s data as proof of the efficacy of such a method, and could propose alterations to make it even more effective.

Check back this Friday to see Kristy’s findings in her latest blog post.

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