Document Type


Publication Date

December 2008


This article has been peer reviewed. It is published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Volume 5, Issue 4, December 18,2008, Pages 290-317. The published version is available at Doi:10.3390/ijerph5040290a>. Copyright (c) Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI).


Over the past three years (2006-2008), the medical/health and public health communities have shown a growing interest in using online 3D virtual worlds like Second Life® ( for health education, community outreach, training and simulations purposes. 3D virtual worlds are seen as the precursors of ‘Web 3D’, the next major iteration of the Internet that will follow in the coming years. This paper provides a tour of several flagship Web 3D experiences in Second Life®, including Play2Train Islands (emergency preparedness training), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—CDC Island (public health), Karuna Island (AIDS support and information), Tox Town at Virtual NLM Island (US National Library of Medicine - environmental health), and Jefferson’s Occupational Therapy Center. We also discuss the potential and future of Web 3D. These are still early days of 3D virtual worlds, and there are still many more untapped potentials and affordances of 3D virtual worlds that are yet to be explored, as the technology matures further and improves over the coming months and years.