Integrative review: Virtual disaster training

Sharon L. Farra, Elaine T. Miller


Background: A critical component of disaster preparedness is the training of the healthcare workforce. Because livedisaster exercises are expensive and labor intensive, virtual reality simulation may offer a viable solution as a disastertraining method. The purpose of this integrative review was to examine the scientific evidence pertaining to the efficacy ofvirtual reality training in disaster training of healthcare workers. Inclusion criteria were: empiric literature focused on theuse of virtual reality simulation (VRS) in disaster training, written in English, peer-reviewed literature and publishedduring the time period of 2005-June, 2012. An exclusion criterion was the use of virtual simulation for modeling theeffects of disaster because these articles were not used for immersive training purposes.

Methodology: A five-stage process was followed as the methodological strategy for the integrative review. These stagesincluded identification of the problem and purposes, a defined search strategy (method), evaluation and analysis of dataand the presentation of findings. A search of diverse databases was performed. These databases include PubMed, theCumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Healthcare Literature, Education Resources Information Center, AcademicSearch Complete, Computer Source, and Computer/Applied Science.

Results: Principle findings identified three major themes including: descriptions of the participant’s VRS experiences,learning results after participation in VRS and an exploration of how knowledge construction occurs in the virtualenvironment. Eleven research articles were selected for inclusion in the review.

Conclusions: The review found there are too few studies investigating the efficacy of VRS and disaster training. Rigorouslarger studies with measurement of long-term retention are needed. There is also a need to assess the self-efficacy to act indifferent types of disasters, and evaluate behavioral determinates such as performance in triage, decontamination, andtransport.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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