HEIF Funded Project: VR Igloo

Developing and evaluating a novel interactive virtual reality intervention for children with eczema

Team: Dr Heidi Singleton, Yaqing Cui, Dr Xiaosong Yang, Dr Emily Arden-Close, Professor Steven Ersser, Professor Debbie Holley, Dr Sarah Thomas, Richard Glithro, John Moran, Dr Andy Hodder and Amanda Roberts (Nottingham Support Group for Carers (NSG) of Children with Eczema).

Aim: To co-create a complex VR health intervention based on the guided imagery approach to treating eczema (Ersser et al., 2014); targeted at children (aged between 7 and 11 years of age) (complex intervention development). This intervention is not a medical device but addresses a clinical issue and can be used at hospital or in the home. Our processes and outputs will be congruent with some of the staging of complex intervention development advised by the Medical Research Council (2021).

Evidence from our small-scale PPI project (Singleton et al. 2022), points to the need for an interactive VR innovation that provides an immersive experience to distract from itchy eczema with minimal requirements for contact with the child’s face or hands. To tackle this problem, we will design and develop a prototype system of an interactive “mini-VR igloo headset”. We will work with the Department of Design and Engineering to design and develop the prototype.

The two initial ideas for the engineering of the igloo are presented below. In keeping with a person-based approach these ideas will be discussed with our PIER group and will form part of the developmental work with our Nottingham based charity stakeholder partner.

This HEIF funding will enable this cross faculty team to work together (with external partners and Voice), with some additional paid staff to accelerate and maximise the development of a complex intervention to enhance its potential for impact. It will also provide us with several prototypes to test at BU events.