Monday, October 5, 2009

CFS Research using Second Life

Murdoch University is currently undertaking new research into how virtual
worlds on the Internet, such as Second Life can be used to help people with
ME/CFS, particularly in overcoming some of the isolation that is often
associated with these conditions, as well as providing a place where people
can meet others, and share information and support.

We are looking for volunteers who would be willing to participate in Canada
and Australia. This would involve two interviews either over the phone or
through Skype with one of our researchers, approximately six months apart,
as well as participating in a focus group discussion to be held in Second
Life in which other participants in the study from both Australia and Canada
would take part.

At the end of the study all participants will be able to maintain their free
Second Life account and continue to have access to all the online facilities
being constructed for this study on Murdoch University's Second Life Campus.

If you are interested in participating please contact Dr Mike Kent via email
at or on 0412 442 808.

What are we trying to find out?

This research is looking at the potential for virtual worlds such as Second
Life to help ease the isolation that is often associated with conditions
such as ME/CFS. There is an existing ME/CFS support group in Second Life
that speaks very highly of the positive effect participation in Second Life
has had on their lives, and this study is looking at how these experiences
might to transferable to the broader ME/CFS community.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for volunteers who currently have ME/CFS and are connected to
the Internet and who would be interested in participating in this study. You
would need to have a broadband connection of some sort and a computer
capable of running the Second Life Software (generally a computer that was
purchased in the last 3 or 4 years).

What would you be asked to do?

There would be two interviews that take place either over the phone or
through the Internet using Skype that would be arranged approximately six
months apart at your convenience as well as participation in a focus group
with other people in the study that would be conducted in Second Life.

What is Second Life?

Second Life is a virtual world accessed through the Internet. It creates a
3D virtual world, where people are able to virtually move around and
interact with the world and with each other. Murdoch University has
developed its own campus on Second Life, with a dedicated building for this

Who is conducting this research?

This research is being conducted by Murdoch University through funding from
the Australia Research Council. The Chief Investigator in this project is Dr
Kirsty Best. Dr Best has been heavily involved in the ME/CFS support
community in her native Canada before moving to Australia and maintains
strong links with that organisation. Dr Mike Kent is the researcher with
responsibility for the Australian based division of this project.

I am currently running a research project in Canada and Australia that is
looking at the potential for the virtual world Second Life to help ease the
isolation frequently experienced by people with ME/CFS. I was wondering if
you would mind forwarding a request for volunteers in those two countries
through your site? We have constructed a resource centre in Second Life for
ME/CFS on Murdoch Universities virtual campus, that we are hoping will
continue as a resource once this study is completed. I have attached below a
suggested letter to be posted if that would be OK. Please feel free to
contact me if you would like any further information.

Your faithfully,


Dr Mike Kent
Critical Digital Hub
The Popular Culture Collective

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