Towards a virtual doctor-patient relationship: Understanding virtual patients.

Vanessa Gamboa González


The use of online virtual communities to deliver health information has grown with the creation of 3D online virtual worlds such as Second Life. The existence of virtual spaces offers the opportunity to use new media and spaces of social interaction, participation and collaboration to deliver realistic and vivid health experiences. While the potential seems great, in practice, there are significant limitations in using virtual online communities to deliver health information. First, these virtual worlds are fantasy spaces where people escape the limitations of their bodies to engage in social interactions. Second, virtual worlds lack the cues that usually signal medical authority, making virtual residents skeptical about health information and advice obtained in Second Life.


Virtual worlds; Health; Doctor-patient relationship.

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