An Overview of Using Electronic Games for Health Purposes

An Overview of Using Electronic Games for Health Purposes

Wei Peng (Michigan State University, USA) and Ming Liu (Michigan State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-808-6.ch023
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Abstract

This chapter aims to provide an overall picture of the applications of electronic games for various health-related purposes, particularly for health education, health risk prevention, behavioral intervention, and disease self-management. We first summarize the electronic games for health that have been empirically tested by researchers in the past 20 years. Games that have not yet been evaluated but are promising and noteworthy are also included. These games are categorized based on their specific health-related functions (i.e., prevention, self-management, medical training, etc). Second, we synthesize the key features of electronic games that make them promising to be used for health-related purposes. Finally, implications of using electronic games for health-related purposes and future direction for research in this area are discussed. Game researchers, health providers, game designers, and potential game consumers will all find informative content in this chapter.
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Introduction

The benefit of electronic gaming is no longer limited to entertainment. Electronic games have the potential to alter the lives of many people in fundamental ways. In the last two decades, plenty of research has been conducted to evaluate use of electronic games in the educational setting (for a general review, see Lee & Peng, 2006; Lieberman, 2006). Recently, a new movement of “serious games for health” has been proposed to apply electronic games for health-related purposes. This chapter aims to provide an overall picture of the applications of electronic games for various health-related purposes, particularly for health education, health risk prevention, behavioral intervention, and disease self-management.

In this chapter, we first summarize the electronic games that have been empirically tested by researchers in various health-related settings. The research studies included in this part were obtained by a comprehensive search in Web of Science and MEDLINE databases using meaningful combinations of keywords including “video game,” “computer game,” “intervention,” “health,” and “cancer.” Papers published within the past 20 years were used in order to focus on modern electronic games and their applications. A thorough check of the references in the retrieved articles was conducted to locate more studies. Additionally, some newly developed health-related electronic games that have not been evaluated but demonstrate potential were also included for a more comprehensive overview. We categorized the located electronic games based on their specific health-related functions (i.e., prevention, self-management, medical training, etc). In the second part of this chapter, we discuss the key features of electronic games that make them promising to be used for health-related purposes. Finally, implications of using games for health-related purposes and future direction for research in this area are discussed. Different issues about these games faced by health providers, game designers, and researchers are discussed separately.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Disease Self-Management: The skills of patients with a chronic disease to effectively look after themselves.

Self-Efficacy: One’s belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner or attaining certain goals.

Evaluation Study: Research study on the effectiveness of a service or program involving empirical data.

Health Education: A process of delivering health-related information to help people learn to behave in a manner conducive to the promotion, maintenance, or restoration of health.

Randomized Controlled Experiment: A research methodology in which subjects are randomly assigned to treatment and control groups in order to test causal relationships.

Simulation: A computer-assisted imitation of behavior in real-world situations.

Health Intervention: A planned program aimed to help people improve or maintain their health by adopting new behavior or changing old behavior.

Serious Game: Games with a purpose beyond entertainment, including but not limited to games for learning, games for health, and games for policy and social change.

Health Promotion: A process that encourages a healthy lifestyle for optimal health.

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