Alcohol Related Deaths During the Holidays are Reduced Using Virtual Role-Players to Help Healthcare Providers Learn Alcohol Intervention Techniques

Christmas is even more dangerous for drivers than Thanksgiving with more than 6 in 10 fatalities happening around the Christmas holidays. Healthcare providers are learning best practices for helping their patients reduce alcohol consumption before their risky drinking makes Christmas tragic.

COLUMBIA, Md., Dec. 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Thirty percent of the fatal crashes during the holidays involved drivers who were intoxicated. Among the organizations fighting to reduce alcohol-related deaths is the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). They have contributed by funding SIMmersion to create virtual role-players designed to help healthcare providers learn alcohol Intervention best practices.

Healthcare Providers Can Help Reduce Alcohol-Related Deaths

Research shows that when healthcare providers intervene, alcohol consumption decreases and often stays down. However, raising the topic of alcohol use with patients isn’t always easy. If a provider initiates the conversation inappropriately, patients can become defensive and may even leave the practice. As a result, many providers are uncomfortable talking to their patients about alcohol use.

Intervention Training Helps Providers

To support providers, SIMmersion joined forces with (NIAAA) and others on the cutting edge of alcohol intervention research to develop training systems utilizing virtual role-players. The series of systems offer different approaches, each shown to be effective at reducing alcohol consumption, in different situations. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI) are effective and are well suited when alcohol use disorder requires more than a brief intervention. Two other commonly used approaches are Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral (SBIR) and Brief Motivational Intervention (Brief MI). These last two methods are effective and appropriate in a setting when there is less time for therapy and can be used by both physicians and therapists.

All of these training systems include both an educational component and a practice component with extensive feedback. Research shows that they are highly effective at building the confidence and skills necessary for successful intervention.

The Role-Play Technology

These role-play training systems have been created utilizing PeopleSim┬«, a SIMmersion proprietary technology used for a variety of applications. When a role-play practice session is started, a randomly selected personality is assigned to the role-player. The sessions typically have between 50 and 100 exchanges. For each exchange, users select one of a large variety of statements. Each statement typically has from 7 to 15 possible responses. To choose the role-player response, the PeopleSim technology calculates probabilities for each of the possible responses based on current conditions, and then uses these probabilities to randomly select a response. The probability calculations are based on one of the role-player’s different randomly selected personalities and on the evolving relationship the user has developed with the role-player during the conversation. To learn more, watch the YouTube video.

About SIMmersion

SIMmersion’s mission is to train communication skills faster and more effectively by combining the world’s most realistic simulation experiences with interactive training content and extensive feedback. For more information contact SIMmersion by calling 443-283-2555 or online at

Media Contact:
Dale Olsen