Since the mid-1990s, a significant scientific literature has evolved regarding the mental/physical health outcomes from the use of what we now refer to as Clinical Virtual Reality (VR). While the preponderance of clinical work with VR has focused on building immersive virtual worlds for treating anxiety disorders with exposure therapy, providing distracting immersive experiences for acute pain management, and supporting physical rehabilitation with game-based interactive content, there are other emerging areas that have extended the impact of VR in healthcare. One such area involves the recent technological advances that have led to the evolution of intelligent virtual human (VH) agents. VH representations can now be designed to perceive and act in a 3D virtual world, engage in face-to-face spoken dialogues with real users, and in some cases, can exhibit human-like emotional reactions. We have reported positive outcomes from studies using VHs in the role of virtual patients for training novice clinicians, as job interview/social skill trainers for persons on the autism spectrum, and as online health care support agents with university students and military veterans. The computational capacity now exists to deliver similar VH interactions by way of mobile device technology. This capability can support the “anywhere/anytime” availability of VH characters as agents for engaging users with clinical care information and could provide opportunities for improving access to care and emotional support for childhood cancer survivors (CCS). With a survivorship rate of over 83%, CCS are living longer, with estimates indicating that there will be over 500,000 CCS in the United States by 2020. However, CCS are at high risk for late effects of treatment, including recurring or secondary cancers, unhealthy lifestyle, disengagement from care, and the lack of the social support that has been shown to be vital for health and well-being. The majority of CCS will have at least one chronic condition by age 40. Moreover, existing initiatives to serve the needs of CCS have had limited success as these populations can be hard to reach and difficult to engage. We conducted two preliminary studies to inform development and evaluate the usefulness of a mobile app that included VH interaction and guidance to help CCS navigate survivorship and maintain health. In Study 1, two rounds of focus group interviews were conducted with 15 CCS aged 13-30 years. In Study 2, a pilot VH-driven app was developed using the information collected in Study 1. The app was downloaded, tested, and evaluated for one week by 60 CCS between the ages of 13-29 years. The results indicated that dynamic, accessible, engaging and survivor-focused VH approaches could address the needs of young, “digitally native” CCS. We will present a brief introduction to the clinical use of VHs within the VR context (Rizzo), followed by a discussion of a new mobile-enabled VH project designed to promote access to health care information and emotional support in young adult CCS (Spruijt-Metz).

Citation Format: Skip Rizzo, Donna Spruijt-Metz, Arno Hartholt, Bill Swartout, Kayla de la Haye, Joel Milam, David Freyer, Kimberly Miller, Anamara Ritt-Olson, Stacy Schepens-Niemiec, Shinyi Wu, Maryalice Jordan-Marsh, Amie Hwang, Anya Samek, Dennis Wixon, George Tolomiczenko, Kenneth Hayashida, Marientina Gotsis, Stefan Schneider, Swaroop Samek, Yaniv Bar-Cohen. Mobile virtual human health care guides for young adult childhood cancer survivors [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference on Modernizing Population Sciences in the Digital Age; 2019 Feb 19-22; San Diego, CA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2020;29(9 Suppl):Abstract nr IA15.