Combating Unequal Treatment in Healthcare Through Virtual Awareness and Training in Empathy

Nova Wilson of the CULTIVATE team holding the white VR headset and two hand controllers


CULTIVATE (Combating Unequal Treatment in Healthcare Through Virtual Awareness and Training in Empathy) uses virtual reality (VR) to deliver diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training to healthcare providers. The CULTIVATE experience puts healthcare providers in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) patients' shoes using VR-based training scenarios simulating BIPOC patients' experience accessing healthcare. This project aims to understand if changes in medical education enhanced by VR will improve health access, quality of care, and health outcomes of BIPOC people. Through CULTIVATE, researchers want to find out if virtual reality can be used in medical education to interrupt the impact of implicit bias.  

Lynhea Anicete of CULTIVATE shows Taytum Sanderbeck how to use the white VR goggles.

Study Aim

To determine if changes in medical education enhanced by technological innovation will improve health access and health outcomes for BIPOC communities. 


Whether VR improves BIPOC patient healthcare experiences? 


Using Virtual Reality (VR) based training scenarios to:

  • Provide healthcare workers and students with a glimpse of the patient experience from the patients' perspective. 
  • Explore whether VR improves Black and Latinx patient healthcare experiences. 
  • Improve the quality of care BIPOC people receive. 
Taytum Sanderbeck wearing white VR goggles and holding a round, white controller in each hand
Experiencing the CULTIVATE VR: Taytum Sanderbeck uses the VR headset and controllers
Monique character inside the CULTIVATE VR
Inside the CULTIVATE VR: Monique, an African-American character wearing jeans, a blue hoodie, and sneakers looking in the mirror

Photos on this page by Elizabeth Fall

Project Brief PDF

“We're not telling you, 'You're bad.' We're saying, this is how someone else is experiencing life, and maybe if you can see it from their perspective, that may change how you engage with them.”

-Kelly Taylor, behavioral scientist and co-leader of CULTIVATE


CULTIVATE was featured on KQED: Can Virtual Reality Be Used to Combat Racial Bias in Health Care?

Listen to the KQED story about CULTIVATE

Nova Wilson guides Dr. Mike Reed on how to use the VR headset and controllers