Building virtual communities for health promotion: Emerging best practices through an analysis of the international health challenge & related literature in second life

Sameer Siddiqi, Rebecca E. Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Contemporary Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) allow health educators, researchers, and practitioners (ERPs) to engage students, participants, and patients through innovative and uniquely rewarding methods. The technology's value lies in its access to non-traditional participant pools, novel forms of social interaction, and cost-effective improvements to existing methods. These benefits are built on key Web 2.0 principles, namely social networking, community synthesis, and collaborative content generation. In light of ongoing dynamic development of virtual platforms, advancements in networking and immersion technology, and sustained consumer interest, the appeal of these environments will likely increase. Linden Lab's Second Life (SL), a widely recognized and heavily populated MUVE, illustrates the technology's broad spectrum of possibilities through the documented efforts of early adopters involved in health promotion, research, and therapy. However, ERPs must be mindful of the medium's complexities, technological and social parameters, and weaknesses before considering development within virtual worlds (in-world). As these environments operate independently of the real world in some aspects, knowledge of gathering and creating relevant in-world and real-world resources, attracting and retaining project interest, and addressing common obstacles is essential. Through an analysis of the Texas Obesity Research Center at the University of Houston's International Health Challenge in SL and the documented findings of past and existing health-related programs in SL, the authors seek to provide best practices to overcome these challenges and establish realistic parameters for program design and implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUbiquitous Health and Medical Informatics
Subtitle of host publicationThe Ubiquity 2.0 Trend and Beyond
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781615207770
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions(all)

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