Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Fiellin: The current findings are part of a larger study evaluating an interactive evidence-based video game, PlayForward: Elm City Stories, developed on the iPad and targeting risk reduction and HIV prevention in 333 young teens (ages 11-14). The larger study is examining a range of outcomes including knowledge, intentions, self-efficacy and actual behaviors and we are collecting at baseline, 6 weeks, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. We are examining these outcomes in our experimental group compared with a control group playing a set of off-the-shelf games on the iPad. The current findings of the 196 teens who have completed the 6 weeks of gameplay and for whom we have baseline and 3 month data, reveal that, while the two groups had no differences in their baseline HIV risk knowledge, the PlayForward group had statistically significant gains in knowledge at 6 weeks (p<0.0001), sustained at 3 months (p<0.01). In addition, examining the association between exposure to the game and performance on the standardized assessments revealed that the number of game levels completed (a measure of exposure to the intervention) was positively correlated with knowledge gains measured at 3 months (r=0.42; p<0.001).
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Fiellin: We expected to see these types of gains in knowledge in the PlayForward group as it was designed to provide for repetitive exposure to information and skill-building while keeping the player engaged.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Fiellin: Our study of an interactive video game produced on a mobile device (the iPad) demonstrates that video game technology holds the promise of delivering evidence-based theory-driven content and skill-building such that we can affect increases in knowledge and potentially levels of self-efficacy and behavior change. Given that electronic media, video games, and mobile devices are where most youth and young adults are engaged for a significant amount of time, this type of intervention potentially can have greater reach and be more impactful in both general and at-risk populations.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Fiellin: Future research should address the myriad health conditions and social issues that could be targeted with well-made, rigorously tested video game interventions. In addition, data from video game play and the systems developed to analyze them offer the opportunity to evaluate directly how gameplay experience is related to self- reported outcomes, highlighting that video games may be a novel form of assessment as well as intervention.
L. Fiellin1,2, K. Hieftje1,2, T. Fakhouri1, L. Duncan1,3, T. Kyriakides2
1Yale play2PREVENT Lab, New Haven, United States, 2Yale University, New Haven, United States, 3McGill University, Montreal, Canada