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Members of the public are being invited to take part in a virtual reality nature study

Take part in virtual reality nature study

A new research project in Truro is calling for members of the public to help study the effects of virtual reality on health.

Spending time in nature can be good for health and wellbeing. But for many people it can sometimes be hard to access ‘real’ natural environments on a regular basis.

In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School’s Truro campus are using state-of-the-art virtual reality technology to overcome this problem, and recreate the experience of being in nature.

In order to examine the health effects of this ‘digital immersion’, they are asking the public to take part and share feedback on their experiences. Participants will view scenes of ‘virtual nature’ using different types of technology and be asked to complete a short questionnaire, memory test and interview. Anyone over the age of 18 can take part.

Nicky Yeo is the PhD Researcher running the study, and wants as many people as possible to sign up. She said: “We know that a walk in the countryside or a stroll on the beach can benefit a person’s mental health, but for those in hospital or long term care, getting outdoors can be really tough. We think that virtual reality might allow us to provide a realistic and cost-effective substitute, and we’d love a wide range of people to come in and try out the technology.”

Volunteers will need to allow about an hour for their session, which will be conducted at the Knowledge Spa on the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s Treliske site.

If you would like to find out more and sign up, please get in touch with Nicky directly on ny240@exeter.ac.uk or visit http://bit.ly/virtual-nature for more information. The study is taking place until August 2018 and travel expenses will be reimbursed.

Date: 5 July 2018

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