A Generic Framework for Providing Psychosocial Support to Patients through an Online Virtual World
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Virtual worlds have been used in the medical domain for providing social, psychological, educational support to patients with chronic and serious diseases. Semantic Web features including structured type systems (i.e. ontologies) and rule-driven execution have been used effectively in the past to help patients make informed decisions about how to manage their own care. In this thesis, we present an extensible framework using an open source virtual world platform called ‘OpenWonderland’ and a Semantic Web reasoning engine, designed to facilitate supportive online communities for patients. We also present a prototype implementation called YouCan World for providing psychosocial support for patients. Using data from previous research data, we populated our reasoning engine with treatments, interests, and other information about a small set of personas we created. Finally, we report the results from a focus group evaluation, major recommendations were related to privacy & security concerns, addition of new features and improvements.