UCT CS Research Document Archive

The Subjective Response of People Living with HIV to Illness Narratives in VR

Hamza, Sabeeha (2005) The Subjective Response of People Living with HIV to Illness Narratives in VR. MSc, Department of Computer Science, University of Cape Town.

Full text available as:
PDF - Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader or other PDF viewer.

Abstract

This dissertation reports on the results on an exploratory investigation into the potential efficacy of VR as both a support mechanism to people living with HIV/AIDS, as well its capabilities as an emotive medium. Two hypothesis were presented viz. (1) VR will be a form of social support and (2) VR will have an emotional impact on participants.

The research builds up on findings which demonstrate the therapeutic effectiveness of telling personal and collective narratives in an HIV/AIDS support group. This fact, together with the tested ability of VR as a therapeutic medium, let to the development of a virtual support group with an aim to test its therapeutic efficacy.

A low cost, deployable desktop PC based system using custom software was developed. The system implemented a VR walkthrough experience of a tranquil campfire in a forest. The scene contained four interactive avatars who related narratives compiled from HIV/AIDS patients. These narratives covered the aspects of receiving an HIV+ diagnosis, intervention, and coping with living with HIV+ status. To evaluate the system, seven computer semi-literate HIV+ volunteers from townships around Cape Town used the system under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. The participants were interviewed about their experiences with their system, and the data was analyzed qualitatively using grounded theory.

The group experiment showed extensive qualitative support for the potential efficacy of the VR system as both a support mechanism and an emotive medium. The comments received by the participants suggested that the VR medium would be effective as a source of social support, and could augment real counselling sessions, rather than replace them.

The categories which emerged from the analysis of the interview data were emotional impact, emotional support, informational support, technology considerations, comparison with other forms of support, timing considerations and emotional presence. The categories can be grouped according to the research questions viz.

+ The efficacy of VR as an emotive medium (Presence, Emotional Impact, Computer Considerations)

+ The efficacy of the VR simulation as a source of social support (Emotional and Informational Support)

Other themes not anticipated by the data included the following: Timing considerations and Comparison with other forms of counselling.

The interviews suggested that both hypothesis 1 and 2 are correct viz. that the VR system provided a source of social support, and has an emotional impact on the participants.

EPrint Type:Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Keywords:Virtual Reality, HIV/AIDS, Storytelling, Presence, Virtual environment
Subjects:J Computer Applications: J.4 SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES
I Computing Methodologies: I.3 COMPUTER GRAPHICS
K Computing Milieux: K.4 COMPUTERS AND SOCIETY
ID Code:392
Deposited By:Blake, Edwin H
Deposited On:30 April 2007