International Health Challenge
The International Health Challenge (IHC) is a multinational study that explores the utility of virtual worlds in innovative health interventions. It is funded in part by a grant from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. The purposes of the study are to determine (1) the feasibility of health interventions in the online Multi-User Virtual Environment of Second Life and (2) the role of social cohesion on virtual participation.
TORC in Second Life provided opportunities for avatars to earn Lindens (Second Life currency) for walking on treadmills, riding bikes, and trying new fruits and vegetables in Second Life. The International Health Challenge allowed Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and the USA to compete by earning “Challenge Points” for their health behaviors. Materials were available in English, Spanish and French.
Findings indicate participation is positively correlated with an increase in knowledge of physical activity and dietary habits and a reduction in consumption of calories from fat. Furthermore, demographic data show that Second Life was effective medium for reaching an audience at risk for obesity.
Below are some images from the TORC sim in Second Life.
Click here to visit the TORC sim in Second life - This is a url in Second Life, you need to be logged in to Second Life on your computer.
Related Publications and Abstracts
Siddiqi S, Mama SK, Lee RE. Developing an obesity prevention intervention in networked virtual environments: The International Health Challenge in Second Life. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research; 2011, 3(3).
Layne CS, Lee RE, O’Connor D, Horn C, McFarlin BK. Using Digital Communities to Enhance Student Persistence and Retention. In: Cases on Collaboration in Virtual Learning Environments. Kansas City, Missouri. 2010.
Lee RE, Layne CS, McFarlin BK, O’Connor D, Sidiqqi S. Obesity Prevention in Second Life: The International Health Challenge. In: Cases on Collaboration in Virtual Learning Environments. Kansas City, Missouri. 2010.
Siddiqi S & Lee RE. Building Virtual Communities for Health Promotion: Emerging Best Practices through an Analysis of the International Health Challenge & Related Literature in Second Life. In: Ubiquitous Health and Medical Informatics. Hershey, PA: Medical Information Science Reference. 2010.