Gamification and Health Literacy

Gamification and Health Literacy

Badia Faddoul (The Johns Hopkins Hospital, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0978-3.ch003


The growing body of knowledge on the effectiveness and usability of digital games in delivering health information to consumers reveals that the academic attention toward gaming has increased. An overabundance of health information for consumers is often very daunting. Healthcare workers need resources that focus on health literacy, and consumers demand easy to comprehend information in a user friendly format. This chapter explores how gamification as a mode of information exchange could provide answers to the health literacy issue and demonstrates how games can potentially be a natural platform to deliver information to consumers.
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Health literacy poses a challenge in understanding and processing health information. It refers to the degree which individuals obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services that help them in decision making (Parker, Ratzan, & Lurie, 2003). The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health literacy as “The cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health” (WHO, 2009).

The effectiveness of successful health literacy is apparent in an article posted on the WHO Website that depicts the actions of people in eight communities in Meso-America who actively engaged in minimizing the spread of malaria in their regions. By reducing the spread of mosquitoes over a 3-year period, these communities had a 63 percent reduction in malaria cases and a decrease of 86.2 percent in cases caused by plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes morbidity and mortality of malaria in the world (WHO, 2009).

The notable aspect of this story is the involvement of action. The Meso-American people took information from the campaign about reducing the incidence of malaria and acted on it, and, therefore, made a difference. Acting on the knowledge provided is ultimately the goal that healthcare workers seek to attain when delivering information to patients.

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