Nature and Health Speaks: “Exploring Personalized Virtual Nature as a Tool for People Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)” with Olivia McAnirlin, PhD Candidate

Bio: Olivia McAnirlin (she, her) is a fourth year PhD Candidate in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (PRTM) program and the Lab Manager of Clemson’s Virtual Reality and Nature (VRN) Lab. Her research interests include studying the psychological and physiological impacts of nature and virtual reality, as well as using virtual reality as a form of storytelling. Olivia has 15 peer-reviewed publications and one co-authored textbook chapter that explore concepts such as  greenspace, virtual reality, gender, COVID-19, and leisure. Olivia is originally from Maine and enjoys getting outside to enjoy nature, especially Acadia National Park.

Abstract: Creating personalized nature-based VR for people with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is expected to have powerful, therapeutic effects. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to establish virtual reality as a viable tool for people with end-stage COPD. People living with COPD are limited in how they can connect and spend time in nature settings due to their functional status, which can then influence their quality of life. Living with end-stage COPD means that you no longer have the freedom to experience the outdoors through hiking, fishing, running, and other recreational nature pursuits because it is so difficult to breathe.. You most likely do not have the independence to travel without a caregiver or an oxygen tank at all times. It is easy for you to be fatigued and your day is scheduled around doctor’s appointments and checking your oxygen levels. In short, end-stage COPD makes it hard to feel like a “normal” person.


This study will create personalized nature-based virtual reality experiences based on four COPD patient’s loved outdoor spaces in the Upstate of South Carolina (SC), which will then be shown to the participant at the end of the study. Having a personalized, co-created virtual reality experience will allow the patient to re-experience outdoor memories and a place they love but are no longer able to visit. Personalizing virtual reality with end-stage COPD patients, based on their outdoor memories, would allow us to start establishing this tool for use for patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. During this presentation, we will explore the novel protocol and preliminary findings of this study.


Recording now available!