Dysphagia Virtual Patients

Dysphagia Virtual Patients

Dysphagia Virtual Patients


This work is an on-going project investigating the use of virtual patients as a learning tool for conducting medical interviews with patients who are having trouble swallowing, or dysphagia. Early in the project, Shiva collaborated with instructors who taught courses on dysphagia to incorporate virtual patient interviews and creation activities directly into the students’ assignments. This research contributed to Shiva’s dissertation on constructionism, or the act of creating virtual humans as a learning activity. Stevie has continued to use the dysphagia virtual patients in her dissertation research by exploring how interface changes to the virtual patient interview page may be used as scaffolding, or assistance provided to learners to help them complete a task.


Interviewing patients suffering from dysphagia with a variety of diagnoses and cultural backgrounds.


The goal of the dysphagia patients is to provide speech-language pathology students opportunities to interview patients suffering from dysphagia with a variety of diagnoses and cultural backgrounds. VERG has also explored providing students with the technology to create their own dysphagia VPs to increase empathy.


Virtual People Factory (C#, JavaScript), Unity

  • Links to videos: https://youtu.be/ME4opgyhUDw
  • Publications connected to the project:
    • Conference Papers
      • Halan, S., Sia, I., Miles, A., Crary, M., and Lok, B. (2018) Engineering Social Agent Creation into an Opportunity for INterviewing and Interpersonal Skills Training. International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems 2018, Stockholm, Sweden. 1675-1684.
      • Halan, S., Sia, I., Crary, M., & Lok, B. (2015, August). Exploring the Effects of Healthcare Students Creating Virtual Patients for Empathy Training. (short paper) In Intelligent Virtual Agents (pp. 239-249). Springer International Publishing.
      • Halan, S., Lok, B., Sia, I., & Crary, M. (2014, July). Virtual Agent Constructionism: Experiences from Health Professions Students Creating Virtual Conversational Agent Representations of Patients. In Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), 2014 IEEE 14th International Conference on(pp. 249-253). IEEE.
    • Journal Publications
      •  Miles, A., Hayden, S., Halan, S., Carnell, S., & Lok, B. (n.d.). What do speech pathology students gain from virtual patient interviewing? A WHO ICF analysis. BMJ Simulation and Technology Enhanced Learning. Under review.
    • Abstracts, Posters, and Presentations
      • Ward EC, Rumbach A., Hill AE, Nund, R, Goodman S., Carnell S., Halan S, Lok, B (2017). Using different Simulation Learning Activities for Clinical Skill Development in Dysphagia: What works? Oral Presentation, American Speech and Hearing Association, Los Angeles, USA, November 9-11.
      • Sia I, Halan S, Lok B, Crary MA, Improving Clinical Dysphagia Interviewing Skills by Virtual Patient Creation. Dysphagia Research Society Annual Meeting (2014).
      • Halan, S., Rossen, B., Crary, M., and Lok, B. 2012. Constructionism of virtual humans to improve perceptions of conversational partners. In CHI ’12 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2387-2392
    •  Doctoral Dissertations
      • Halan, S. (2016). Virtual Human Constructionism: Engineering Virtual Creation into an Opportunity for Interviewing and Interpersonal Skills Training (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA).