Weight Management Interactions in a Virtual Clinical Environment

Conditions:Healthy Studies, Obesity Weight Loss
Therapuetic Areas:Endocrinology, Other
Age Range:20 - 50
Start Date:August 25, 2011

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This study is part of an effort to learn about interactions between doctors and patients. We
aim to understand how women feel about techniques that doctors use to talk with patients
about their weight. We are studying women s reactions to these techniques using a virtual
reality version of a doctor s office to create as realistic a model of a doctor s visit as
possible. This can help us better understand what happens during real doctor s visits.

Women between the ages of 20 and 50 who are currently overweight may be eligible for this
study. Participants will be recruited from the Washington D.C. area. This is not a weight
treatment study.

Participants undergo the following procedures:

- Complete an online questionnaire about themselves, their experiences, and their thoughts
about their weight

- Participate in activities in a virtual reality environment in which they interact with a
virtual doctor in a virtual clinical scenario. For this experiment, participants wear a
head-mounted display that allows them to see the virtual world images.

- Fill out a questionnaire after completing the virtual reality activities. This
questionnaire includes information on the participants' virtual reality experience, the
information provided in the experience, and additional questions about themselves and
their thoughts.

The primary goal of this research project is to build an evidence base related to primary
care encounters that include discussions about a patient s body weight. We are particularly
interested in how encounters impact patients health-related and weight-related attitudes and
beliefs. Furthermore, this project aims to determine how a physician s approach to the health
care encounter impacts its outcome.

The current study is a controlled experiment in which participants will be participate in a
weight counseling encounter with a virtual reality-based doctor. The virtual doctor will
present weight etiology information. Participants will fill out a self-report questionnaire
online, prior to this encounter. They will then come in to the Immersive Virtual Environment
Testing Area in the NIH Clinical Center for a visit. During this visit, they will engage in
the interaction with the virtual doctor and then fill out a post-test questionnaire.
Participants in the main trial will include approximately 222 healthy adult females between
20-50 years of age who have a BMI of greater than or equal to 25 and are dissatisfied with
their current weight.


1. being between 20 and 50 years old

2. having a self-reported body mass index of greater than or equal to 25

3. having the ability to read, write, and converse in English

4. being able to come to the NIH Clinical Center for one visit


1. having a vestibular or seizure disorder

2. having a high propensity for motion sickness

3. known pregnancy

4. uncorrected low vision or hearing

5. inability to complete tasks in the virtual environment

6. being an NHGRI employee

7. being or training to become a health care provider
We found this trial at
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
Bethesda, MD
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