Gamification: Applications for Health Promotion and Health Information Technology Engagement

Gamification: Applications for Health Promotion and Health Information Technology Engagement

Hannah R. Marston, Amanda K. Hall
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9522-1.ch005
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Game-based approaches (gamification) can provide ideal strategies for health promotion, prevention, and self-management of chronic conditions. However, there is a need to clearly define components and uses of gamification in healthcare for increased patient engagement in health information technology. Therefore, this chapter aims to define gamification and components of gamification, identify relevant research and examples of gamification in regards to health promotion and prevention, discuss strategies to gamify a health application, and summarize current research in the area of gamification for health promotion/prevention. Finally, this chapter provides an overview of gamification applications and how it can be used for health promotion.
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Although there is a paucity of interventions that test gamification components for effectiveness in healthcare interventions or clinical applications, gamification as a concept is not clearly defined in the research literature. To understand gamification and how gamification techniques are being applied a brief discussion of the term “gamification” and the domains that currently utilize gamification strategies are necessary. The following sections provide an overview of the term gamification, components of gamification, and examples of gamification, specifically mHealth apps such as Fitbit and Runtastic. While there are many platforms and applications for gamification, mobile applications form the basis of examples for this chapter given the ubiquitous ownership of mobile devices worldwide and the growing number of mHeatlh applications. For instance, there are almost 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, and a global mobile penetration rate of 96% (Sanou, 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Game: Baranowski and colleagues defined games as “a physical or mental contest with a goal or objective, played according to a framework, or rule, that determines what a player can or cannot do inside a game world” (2008).

Digital Game: Is an interactive program enabling one or multiple players to engage with the content primarily for entertainment purposes.

Immersion: Is experienced when a user or player of digital games becomes ‘immersed’ in the environment and they are unable to acknowledge anything else in the physical environment during this period.

Rehabilitation: Is term used across health and gerontology fields and is associated to re-establishing something to its original condition. For example; a person has a stroke, and loses the use of their arm it is possible through rehabilitation exercises specifically designed for stroke patients the patient will gain some movement/use back in their arm.

Serious Games: Are simulations or virtual environments which are designed and processed for problem solving (e.g., military, flight, education, health and driving simulations).

MHealth: Use of portable devices with software applications for medical purposes.

Taxonomy: Is the classification or categorization of items, concepts or fields.

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