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JMIR Serious Games

A multidisciplinary journal on gaming and gamification including simulation and immersive virtual reality for health education/promotion, teaching and social change.

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Journal Description

JMIR Serious Games (JSG, ISSN 2291-9279) is a sister journal of the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), one of the most cited journals in health informatics (Impact Factor 2016: 5.175). JSG has a projected inofficial impact factor (2016) of 3.32 and will have an official impact factor 2017 (to be released by Clarivate Analytics mid-2018). JSG is a multidisciplinary journal devoted to computer/web/mobile/augmented and virtual reality applications that incorporate elements of gaming to solve serious problems such as health education/promotion, teaching and education, or social change.
The journal also considers commentary and research in the fields of video games violence and video games addiction.

JMIR Serious Games is indexed in Pubmed, PubMed Central, and in Clarivate/Thomson Reuters Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE).

 

Recent Articles:

  • Take Control player silhouettes. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://games.jmir.org/2018/2/e7/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Virtual Reality Cue Refusal Video Game for Alcohol and Cigarette Recovery Support: Summative Study

    Abstract:

    Background: New technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and video games hold promise to support and enhance individuals in addiction treatment and recovery. Quitting or decreasing cigarette or alcohol use can lead to significant health improvements for individuals, decreasing heart disease risk and cancer risks (for both nicotine and alcohol use), among others. However, remaining in recovery from use is a significant challenge for most individuals. Objective: We developed and assessed the Take Control game, a partially immersive Kinect for Windows platform game that allows users to counter substance cues through active movements (hitting, kicking, etc). Methods: Formative analysis during phase I and phase II guided development. We conducted a small wait-list control trial using a quasi-random sampling technique (systematic) with 61 participants in recovery from addiction to alcohol or tobacco. Participants used the game 3 times and reported on substance use, cravings, satisfaction with the game experience, self-efficacy related to recovery, and side effects from exposure to a virtual reality intervention and substance cues. Results: Participants found the game engaging and fun and felt playing the game would support recovery efforts. On average, reported substance use decreased for participants during the intervention period. Participants in recovery for alcohol use saw more benefit than those in recovery for tobacco use, with a statistically significant increase in self-efficacy, attitude, and behavior during the intervention. Side effects from the use of a virtual reality intervention were minor and decreased over time; cravings and side effects also decreased during the study. Conclusions: The preliminary results suggest the intervention holds promise as an adjunct to standard treatment for those in recovery, particularly from alcohol use.

  • Focus group discussing user requirements. Source: Wikipedia; Copyright: Lekomun; URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/%D0%98%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2_%D0%B1%D1%8E%D1%80%D0%BE.jpg; License: Creative Commons Attribution + ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA).

    Gamified Cognitive Control Training for Remitted Depressed Individuals: User Requirements Analysis

    Abstract:

    Background: The high incidence and relapse rates of major depressive disorder demand novel treatment options. Standard treatments (psychotherapy, medication) usually do not target cognitive control impairments, although these seem to play a crucial role in achieving stable remission. The urgent need for treatment combined with poor availability of adequate psychological interventions has instigated a shift toward internet interventions. Numerous computerized programs have been developed that can be presented online and offline. However, their uptake and adherence are oftentimes low. Objective: The aim of this study was to perform a user requirements analysis for an internet-based training targeting cognitive control. This training focuses on ameliorating cognitive control impairments, as these are still present during remission and can be a risk factor for relapse. To facilitate uptake of and adherence to this intervention, a qualitative user requirements analysis was conducted to map mandatory and desirable requirements. Methods: We conducted a user requirements analysis through a focus group with 5 remitted depressed individuals and individual interviews with 6 mental health care professionals. All qualitative data were transcribed and examined using a thematic analytic approach. Results: Results showed mandatory requirements for the remitted sample in terms of training configuration, technological and personal factors, and desirable requirements regarding knowledge and enjoyment. Furthermore, knowledge and therapeutic benefits were key requirements for therapists. Conclusions: The identified requirements provide useful information to be integrated in interventions targeting cognitive control in depression.

  • Researcher analyzing two visual outputs communicating instructions and game play to users (montage). Source: The Authors / Smartmockups.com; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://games.jmir.org/2018/1/e4/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Development of an Exergame to Deliver a Sustained Dose of High-Intensity Training: Formative Pilot Randomized Trial

    Abstract:

    Background: Sport science can play a critical role in reducing health inequalities. The inverse relationship between life expectancy, cardiorespiratory fitness, and socioeconomic status could be addressed by performing high-intensity training (HIT), delivered in a class salient and accessible approach. Commercially available exergames have shown encouraging compliance rates but are primarily designed for entertainment purposes rather than focusing on health-related outcomes. A serious game tailored toward delivering an exercise stimulus, while reducing the aversive protocols associated with HIT, could be beneficial to engage and improve health outcomes in socially deprived males. Objective: The aims of this study were to develop an exergame capable of delivering HIT and evaluate the effect on selected health outcomes in men recruited in regions of socioeconomic deprivation. Methods: We conducted an exploratory trial in our target population, and participants were allocated to intervention (n=14) or control groups (n=10) by third-party minimization. The intervention was a 6-week training program consisting of three sessions of exergaming per week. The sessions involved a structured warm-up, then brief intermittent repetitions in the form of boxing rounds (10 s, 20 s, and 30 s) against their peers with a work/rest ratio of 0.25. Results: Retention to the intervention was 87.5% (21/24). Over the duration of the intervention, session attendance was 67.5% (170/252); repetition mean and peak heart rates (% of maximal) and session ratings of perceived exertion (AU, arbitrary units) were 86.3 (5.4%), 89.9 (6.1%), and 7.5 (2.2 AU), respectively. The effect of the intervention, when compared with the control, was a likely small beneficial improvement in predicted maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max, 3.0; 90% confidence limits ±2.6%). Effects on body mass, waist circumference, and blood pressure were either trivial or unclear. Conclusions: Over the 6-week intervention, the exergame delivered a consistent and sustained dose of HIT, with some beneficial effects on aerobic fitness in the target population. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03477773; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03477773 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6yDLgVs35)

  • ASD participant undergoing an intervention session. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://games.jmir.org/2018/1/e5/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Virtual Travel Training for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Proof-of-Concept Interventional Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction and repetitive patterns of behavior, which can lead to deficits in adaptive behavior. In this study, a serious game was developed to train individuals with ASD for an important type of outdoor activity, which is the use of buses as a means of transportation. Objective: The aim of this study was to develop a serious game that defines a “safe environment” where the players became familiar with the process of taking a bus and to validate if it could be used effectively to teach bus-taking routines and adaptive procedures to individuals with ASD. Methods: In the game, players were placed in a three-dimensional city and were submitted to a set of tasks that involved taking buses to reach specific destinations. Participants with ASD (n=10) underwent between 1 to 3 training sessions. Participants with typical development (n=10) were also included in this study for comparison purposes and received 1 control session. Results: We found a statistically significant increase in the measures of knowledge of the process of riding a bus, a reduction in the electrodermal activity (a metric of anxiety) measured inside the bus environments, and a high success rate of their application within the game (93.8%). Conclusions: The developed game proved to be potentially useful in the context of emerging immersive virtual reality technologies, of which use in therapies and serious games is still in its infancy. Our findings suggest that serious games, using these technologies, can be used effectively in helping people with ASD become more independent in outdoor activities, specifically regarding the use of buses for transportation.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: Trevor Owens; URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/trevorandmarjee/8079565762/in/photostream/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Empirical Evidence for the Outcomes of Therapeutic Video Games for Adolescents With Anxiety Disorders: Systematic Review

    Abstract:

    Background: Extant evidence suggests that the proportion of adolescents suffering from anxiety disorders (ADs) has increased by up to 70% since the mid-1980s, with experience of anxiety at this stage associated with significant negative short- and long-term life outcomes. The existing therapeutic interventions (eg, cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT; attention bias modification, ABM) have proven to have clinically measurable benefits in reducing anxiety, but their efficacy is often compromised by social and practical barriers. The growing discrepancy between demand for, and access to, clinical interventions for anxiety has led to the development of a range of eHealth (health care practice supported by electronic processes and communication) and mHealth (versions of eHealth using mobile devices) interventions. One such protocol is therapeutic games, which aim to provide clinical frameworks in dynamic, adaptable, and personalized virtual environments. Although some evidence exists to suggest therapeutic games are associated with reductions in subjective anxiety and observed stress reactivity, there is currently, to our knowledge, no systematic review of the adherence to, and effectiveness of, therapeutic games for adolescent anxiety. Objective: The aim of this review was to establish the effectiveness of therapeutic games in making clinically measurable reductions in anxiety symptoms in adolescent samples. Methods: A systematic search of the existing academic literature published between 1990 and July 2017 was conducted using the databases Journal of Medical Internet Research, Journal Storage, Psychology Articles, Psychology Info, ScienceDIRECT, and Scopus. Records linked to empirical papers on therapeutic games for anxiety using adolescent samples were evaluated. Results: A total of 5 studies (N=410 participants) met the inclusion criteria, and 3 gamified anxiety interventions for adolescents were identified. The papers included a mixture of randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental studies, and usability studies comprising quantitative and qualitative measures, with varying degrees of mixed methods. Extant evidence shows potential for therapeutic games to create clinically measurable reductions in symptoms of anxiety in adolescent samples, though findings are complicated in some cases by a low sample size, and in other cases by research design and methodological complications, including anxiety reductions in control groups caused by a control-game selection. Conclusions: Although research in this field appears to be extremely limited, as demonstrated by the small number of papers meeting the inclusion criteria for this review, early findings suggest that therapeutic games have potential in helping to engage adolescents with anxiety and lead to clinically measurable reductions in symptoms.

  • Source: The Authors / Placeit.net; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://games.jmir.org/2018/1/e2/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    User-Centered Design of Learn to Quit, a Smoking Cessation Smartphone App for People With Serious Mental Illness

    Abstract:

    Background: Smoking rates in the United States have been reduced in the past decades to 15% of the general population. However, up to 88% of people with psychiatric symptoms still smoke, leading to high rates of disease and mortality. Therefore, there is a great need to develop smoking cessation interventions that have adequate levels of usability and can reach this population. Objective: The objective of this study was to report the rationale, ideation, design, user research, and final specifications of a novel smoking cessation app for people with serious mental illness (SMI) that will be tested in a feasibility trial. Methods: We used a variety of user-centered design methods and materials to develop the tailored smoking cessation app. This included expert panel guidance, a set of design principles and theory-based smoking cessation content, development of personas and paper prototyping, usability testing of the app prototype, establishment of app’s core vision and design specification, and collaboration with a software development company. Results: We developed Learn to Quit, a smoking cessation app designed and tailored to individuals with SMI that incorporates the following: (1) evidence-based smoking cessation content from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and US Clinical Practice Guidelines for smoking cessation aimed at providing skills for quitting while addressing mental health symptoms, (2) a set of behavioral principles to increase retention and comprehension of smoking cessation content, (3) a gamification component to encourage and sustain app engagement during a 14-day period, (4) an app structure and layout designed to minimize usability errors in people with SMI, and (5) a set of stories and visuals that communicate smoking cessation concepts and skills in simple terms. Conclusions: Despite its increasing importance, the design and development of mHealth technology is typically underreported, hampering scientific innovation. This report describes the systematic development of the first smoking cessation app tailored to people with SMI, a population with very high rates of nicotine addiction, and offers new design strategies to engage this population. mHealth developers in smoking cessation and related fields could benefit from a design strategy that capitalizes on the role visual engagement, storytelling, and the systematic application of behavior analytic principles to deliver evidence-based content.

  • Boy excited over finding a Pokémon. Source: The Authors/ Placeit.net; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e24/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    The Praise and Price of Pokémon GO: A Qualitative Study of Children’s and Parents’ Experiences

    Abstract:

    Background: Physical activity has multiple health benefits; however, the majority of children around the world do not attain the recommended levels of daily physical activity. Research has shown that the game Poké mon GO has increased the amount of physical activity of players and that the game has the potential to reach populations that traditionally have low levels of physical activity. Therefore, there is a need to understand which game components can promote initial and sustained physical activity. By using a qualitative research approach, it is possible to achieve rich descriptions and enhance a deep understanding of the components promoting physical activity among children in a game such as Poké mon GO. Objective: The objective of this study was to explore children’s and parents’ experiences playing Poké mon GO. Methods: Eight families comprising 13 children (aged 7-12 years) and 9 parents were selected using purposeful sampling. Data collected using focus groups were analyzed using qualitative latent content analysis. Results: The following three themes were revealed: (1) exciting and enjoyable exploration; (2) dangers and disadvantages; and (3) cooperation conquers competition. The first centers around the present and possible future aspects of Poké mon GO that promote physical activity. The second focuses on unwanted aspects and specific threats to safety when playing the game. The third shows that cooperation and togetherness are highly valued by the participants and that competition is fun but less important. Conclusions: Components from Poké mon GO could enhance the efficacy of physical activity interventions. Cooperation and exploration are aspects of the game that preferably could be transferred into interventions aimed at promoting children’s physical activity.

  • Source: Pixabay; Copyright: Sasint; URL: https://pixabay.com/en/chicken-old-man-birds-wings-1822472/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    The Role of Transfer in Designing Games and Simulations for Health: Systematic Review

    Abstract:

    Background: The usefulness and importance of serious games and simulations in learning and behavior change for health and health-related issues are widely recognized. Studies have addressed games and simulations as interventions, mostly in comparison with their analog counterparts. Numerous complex design choices have to be made with serious games and simulations for health, including choices that directly contribute to the effects of the intervention. One of these decisions is the way an intervention is expected to lead to desirable transfer effects. Most designs adopt a first-class transfer rationale, whereas the second class of transfer types seems a rarity in serious games and simulations for health. Objective: This study sought to review the literature specifically on the second class of transfer types in the design of serious games and simulations. Focusing on game-like interventions for health and health care, this study aimed to (1) determine whether the second class of transfer is recognized as a road for transfer in game-like interventions, (2) review the application of the second class of transfer type in designing game-like interventions, and (3) assess studies that include second-class transfer types reporting transfer outcomes. Methods: A total of 6 Web-based databases were systematically searched by titles, abstracts, and keywords using the search strategy (video games OR game OR games OR gaming OR computer simulation*) AND (software design OR design) AND (fidelity OR fidelities OR transfer* OR behaviour OR behavior). The databases searched were identified as relevant to health, education, and social science. Results: A total of 15 relevant studies were included, covering a range of game-like interventions, all more or less mentioning design parameters aimed at transfer. We found 9 studies where first-class transfer was part of the design of the intervention. In total, 8 studies dealt with transfer concepts and fidelity types in game-like intervention design in general; 3 studies dealt with the concept of second-class transfer types and reported effects, and 2 of those recognized transfer as a design parameter. Conclusions: In studies on game-like interventions for health and health care, transfer is regarded as a desirable effect but not as a basic principle for design. None of the studies determined the second class of transfer or instances thereof, although in 3 cases a nonliteral transfer type was present. We also found that studies on game-like interventions for health do not elucidate design choices made and rarely provide design principles for future work. Games and simulations for health abundantly build upon the principles of first-class transfer, but the adoption of second-class transfer types proves scarce. It is likely to be worthwhile to explore the possibilities of second-class transfer types, as they may considerably influence educational objectives in terms of future serious game design for health.

  • Source: The Authors / Placeit.net; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e22/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Breaking Health Insurance Knowledge Barriers Through Games: Pilot Test of Health Care America

    Abstract:

    Background: Having health insurance is associated with a number of beneficial health outcomes. However, previous research suggests that patients tend to avoid health insurance information and often misunderstand or lack knowledge about many health insurance terms. Health insurance knowledge is particularly low among young adults. Objective: The purpose of this study was to design and test an interactive newsgame (newsgames are games that apply journalistic principles in their creation, for example, gathering stories to immerse the player in narratives) about health insurance. This game included entry-level information through scenarios and was designed through the collation of national news stories, local personal accounts, and health insurance company information. Methods: A total of 72 (N=72) participants completed in-person, individual gaming sessions. Participants completed a survey before and after game play. Results: Participants indicated a greater self-reported understanding of how to use health insurance from pre- (mean=3.38, SD=0.98) to postgame play (mean=3.76, SD=0.76); t71=−3.56, P=.001. For all health insurance terms, participants self-reported a greater understanding following game play. Finally, participants provided a greater number of correct definitions for terms after playing the game, (mean=3.91, SD=2.15) than they did before game play (mean=2.59, SD=1.68); t31=−3.61, P=.001. Significant differences from pre- to postgame play differed by health insurance term. Conclusions: A game is a practical solution to a difficult health issue—the game can be played anywhere, including on a mobile device, is interactive and will thus engage an apathetic audience, and is cost-efficient in its execution.

  • A group of students and Pokémon GO players at the project explanation in one of the university recreation fields. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Examining Motivations to Play Pokémon GO and Their Influence on Perceived Outcomes and Physical Activity

    Abstract:

    Background: Pokémon GO is the most played augmented reality game in history. With more than 44 million players at the peak of its popularity, the game has sparked interest on its effects on the young population’s health. Objective: This pilot study examined motivations to start playing Pokémon GO among a sample of US college students, and how motivations were associated with perceived outcomes of the playing experience and physical activity derived while playing. Methods: In November 2016, we asked a sample of 47 US college students (all Pokémon GO players) to complete online surveys and install an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) tool and step counter on their smartphones. The EMA tool prompted a set of questions on playing behavior and physical activity, 3 times per day (12:00 PM, 7:00 PM, and 10:00 PM), for 7 days. We used a factorial analysis to identify 3 distinctive groups of players based on their motivations to start playing Pokémon GO. We tested differences across motivation groups related to 5 unique outcomes using 1-way analysis of variance. Results: We extracted 3 interpretable factors from the clustering of motivations to start playing Pokémon GO: Pokémon and video game fans (n=26, 55% of the sample), physical activity seekers (n=8, 17%), and curious & social (n=13, 28%). The clusters differed significantly on the enjoyment of different aspects of the game, particularly battling, discovering new places, and meeting new people, as well as differences in agreement that playing improved mood and made them more social. Days when playing Pokémon GO were associated with higher number of steps reported at the end of the day, especially among physical activity seekers, but also for Pokémon and video game fans. All groups perceived traffic as a major threat to playing. Conclusions: Days during which Pokémon GO was played were positively associated with a set of beneficial health behaviors, including higher physical activity levels, more socialization, and better mood. Results, however, depended on personal motivations and expectations when joining the game. These results highlight the importance of taking motivation into account when attempting to extract conclusions from the Pokémon GO phenomenon to enhance future exergames’ designs or health interventions.

  • Recipe box. Source: Figure 2 from http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e20; Copyright: the authors; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Mommio’s Recipe Box: Assessment of the Cooking Habits of Mothers of Preschoolers and Their Perceptions of Recipes for a Video Game

    Abstract:

    Background: Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet because they help prevent several chronic diseases. Mothers of preschoolers reported difficulty getting their young children to eat vegetables, and many did not know how to cook child-pleasing recipes. Objective: The cooking habits of mothers of preschoolers, their perceptions of recipes designed for their children, and the involvement of their children in food preparation were assessed to inform a food parenting video game called Mommio. Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used. Eligibility criteria included mothers of 3- to 5-year-old children who reported difficulty getting their children to eat vegetables. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire with questions about their food preparation practices. They were asked to select up to 4 of the 10 provided recipes they wanted to try and to prepare and report back on their experiences. Results: Most (46) of the 50 recipes included in Mommio’s in-game recipe box were evaluated at least once and some up to 5 times with a total of 85 evaluations. This well-educated, mostly employed, sample of 27 mothers of preschoolers preferred simple, quick recipes. They ate primarily at home, made dinners from scratch, and indicated that the 46 recipes were generally simple, quick, and easy to prepare. Involvement in preparation enhanced their child’s acceptance of the food. Prior food and preparation preferences influenced the children’s acceptance of the dish at the ensuing meal. Conclusions: The high rate of home recipe preparation indicated that including a recipe selection and preparation component in a food parenting video game could be attractive and may enhance effectiveness. Mothers reported that the recipes provided were generally easy to prepare, tasted good, and the instructions were easy to understand, suggesting they could be helpful to the mothers when playing a vegetable parenting game. Some mothers reported that involving their children in recipe preparation influenced their children’s willingness to eat the vegetables. The highest rated recipes are being included in the game, and mothers will be encouraged to involve their children in recipe preparation.

  • The cycling game. Source: The Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://games.jmir.org/2017/4/e19/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Usability Test of Exercise Games Designed for Rehabilitation of Elderly Patients After Hip Replacement Surgery: Pilot Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Patients who receive rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery are shown to have increased muscle strength and better functional performance. However, traditional physiotherapy is often tedious and leads to poor adherence. Exercise games, provide ways for increasing the engagement of elderly patients and increase the uptake of rehabilitation exercises. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate Fietsgame (Dutch for cycling game), which translates existing rehabilitation exercises into fun exercise games. The system connects exercise games with a patient’s personal record and a therapist interface by an Internet of Things server. Thus, both the patient and physiotherapist can monitor the patient’s medical status. Methods: This paper describes a pilot study that evaluates the usability of the Fietsgame. The study was conducted in a rehabilitation center with 9 participants, including 2 physiotherapists and 7 patients. The patients were asked to play 6 exercise games, each lasting about 5 min, under the guidance of a physiotherapist. The mean age of the patients was 74.57 years (standard deviation [SD] 8.28); all the patients were in the recovery process after hip surgery. Surveys were developed to quantitatively measure the usability factors, including presence, enjoyment, pain, exertion, and technology acceptance. Comments on advantages and suggested improvements of our game system provided by the physiotherapists and patients were summarized and their implications were discussed. Results: The results showed that after successfully playing the games, 75% to 100% of the patients experienced high levels of enjoyment in all the games except the squats game. Patients reported the highest level of exertion in squats when compared with other exercise games. Lunges resulted in the highest dropout rate (43%) due to interference with the Kinect v2 from support chairs. All the patients (100%) found the game system useful and easy to use, felt that it would be a useful tool in their further rehabilitation, and expressed that they would like to use the game in the future. The therapists indicated that the exercise games highly meet the criteria of motor rehabilitation, and they intend to continue using the game as part of their rehabilitation treatment of patients. Comments from the patients and physiotherapists suggest that real-time corrective feedback when patients perform the exercises wrongly and a more personalized user interface with options for increasing or decreasing cognitive load are needed. Conclusions: The results suggest that Fietsgame can be used as an alternative tool to traditional motor rehabilitation for patients with hip surgery. Lunges and squats are found to be more beneficial for patients who have relatively better balance skills. A follow-up randomized controlled study will be conducted to test the effectiveness of the Fietsgame to investigate how motivating it is over a longer period of time.

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  • OU Brainwave: A mobile app delivering a gamified battery of cognitive tests designed for repeated play

    Date Submitted: Mar 29, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: Mar 31, 2018 - May 26, 2018

    Background: Mobile phone and tablet apps are an increasingly common platform to collect data. A key challenge for researchers has been participant “buy-in” and participant attrition for designs re...

    Background: Mobile phone and tablet apps are an increasingly common platform to collect data. A key challenge for researchers has been participant “buy-in” and participant attrition for designs requiring repeated testing. Objective: The objective of this study was to develop and asses the utility of 1 – 2 minute versions of both classic and novel cognitive tasks within a user focussed and driven mobile phone and tablet app designed to encourage repeated play. Methods: A large sample (N = 13,979 at first data collection) participated in multiple, self-paced, sessions of working memory (N-back), spatial cognition (Mental rotation), sustained attentional focus (Persistent Vigilance task), and split attention (Multiple object tracking) tasks along with an implementation of a novel action learning task. A full morningness-eveningness questionnaire was also included. Data was collected across an 18 month period. While the app prompted reengagement at set intervals, each participant was free to repeatedly complete each task as many times as they wished. Results: We found a significant relationship between morningness and age (r = 0.298, n = 12755, p < 0.001), though no effect of gender (t (13539) = -1.036, p = 0.30). We report good task adherence, with ~4000 participants repeatedly playing each game more than four times each - our minimum engagement level for analysis. The repeated plays of these games allow us to replicate commonly reported gender effects in the gamified spatial cognition (F (1, 4216) = 154.861, p<0.001, η_ρ^2 = 0.035), split attention (F (1, 4185) = 11.047, p=0.001, η_ρ^2 = 0.003), sustained attentional focus (F (1, 4238) = 15.993, p<0.001, η_ρ^2 = 0.004). We also found strong negative correlations between self-reported age and performance in the sustained attentional focus (N=1596, F (6, 1595) = 30.23, p<0.001, η2 = 0.102), working memory (N = 1627, F (6, 1626) = 19.78, p<0.001,η2 = 0.068), spatial cognition (N = 1640, F (6, 1639) = 23.74, p<0.001,η2 = 0.080)), and split attention (N = 1616, F(6,1615) = 2.48, p= 0.022, η2 = 0.009) tasks. Conclusions: Using extremely short testing periods and permitting participants to decide their own level of engagement - both in terms of which gamified task they played, and how many sessions they completed - we were able to collect a substantial and valid dataset. We suggest that the success of OU brainwave should inform future research oriented apps - particularly in issues around balancing participant engagement with data fidelity.

  • Physiological and psychological predictors of time to task failure on a virtual reality Sørensen test in participants with and without recurrent low back pain

    Date Submitted: Mar 28, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: Mar 31, 2018 - May 26, 2018

    Background: Sørensen trunk extension endurance test performance predicts the development of low back pain (LBP) and is a strong discriminator of those with and without low back pain (LBP). Performanc...

    Background: Sørensen trunk extension endurance test performance predicts the development of low back pain (LBP) and is a strong discriminator of those with and without low back pain (LBP). Performance may depend greatly upon psychological factors, such as kinesiophobia, self-efficacy, and motivation. Virtual reality video games have been used in the LBP population to encourage physical activity that would otherwise be avoided out of fear of pain or harm. Accordingly, we developed a virtual reality video game to assess the influence of immersive gaming on Sørensen test performance. Objective: To determine the physiological and psychological predictors of time to task failure (TTF) on a virtual reality Sørensen test in participants with and without a history of recurrent LBP. Methods: We recruited 24 individuals with a history of recurrent LBP and 24 sex, age, and BMI matched individuals without a history of any LBP. Participants completed a series of psychological measures, including the Center for Epidemiological Studies – Depression (CES-D), Pain Resilience Scale (PRS), Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia (TSK), and a self-efficacy measure. Maximal isometric strength of the trunk extensors and hip extensors and TTF on a virtual reality Sørensen test was measured. EMG of the Erector Spinae (ERS), Gluteus Maximus (GM), and Biceps Femoris (BF) was recorded during the strength and endurance trials. Results: A two-way ANOVA revealed no significant difference in TTF between groups (P = 0.99), but there was a trend for longer TTF in females on the virtual reality Sørensen test (P = 0.06). Linear regression analyses were performed to determine predictors of TTF for each group. In healthy participants, normalized median power frequency slope of the ERS (β = .450, P = 0.01), and the BF (β = .400, P= 0.01), and trunk mass (β = .330, P = 0.02) predicted TTF. In participants with recurrent LBP, trunk mass (β = -.67, P < 0.01), TSK (β = -.43, P = 0.01) and self-efficacy (β = .35, P = 0.03) predicted TTF. Conclusions: Trunk mass appears to be a consistent predictor of performance. Kinesiophobia appears to negatively influence TTF for those with a history of recurrent LBP, but does not influence healthy individuals. Self-efficacy is associated with better performance in individuals with a history of recurrent LBP, while a less steep median power frequency slope of the trunk and hip extensors is associated with better performance in individuals without a history of LBP.

  • Feasibility and Acceptability of Digital Gaming to Improve Adherence among Adolescents and Young Adults Living with HIV

    Date Submitted: Feb 26, 2018

    Open Peer Review Period: Feb 27, 2018 - Apr 24, 2018

    Background: An estimated 50% of adolescents and young adults (AYA) living with HIV are failing to adhere to prescribed antiretroviral treatment (ART). Digital games are effective in chronic disease ma...

    Background: An estimated 50% of adolescents and young adults (AYA) living with HIV are failing to adhere to prescribed antiretroviral treatment (ART). Digital games are effective in chronic disease management; however, research on gaming to improve ART adherence among AYA is limited. Objective: We assessed the feasibility and acceptability of videogaming to improve AYA ART adherence. Methods: Focus group discussions (FGDs) and surveys were administered to healthcare providers and AYA aged 13-24 years living with HIV at a pediatric HIV program in Washington, DC. During FGDs, AYA viewed demonstrations of three game prototypes linked to portable Wisepill medication dispensers. Content analysis strategies and thematic coding were used to identify adherence themes and gaming acceptance and feasibility. Likert scale and descriptive statistics were used to summarize response frequencies. Results: Providers (n=10) identified common adherence barriers and strategies, including use of gaming analogies to improve AYA ART adherence. Providers supported exploration of digital gaming as an adherence intervention. Six FGDs with 12 AYA identified disclosure of HIV status and irregular daily schedules as major barriers to ART and use of alarms and pillboxes as reminders. Most AYA were "very or somewhat likely" to use the demonstrated game prototypes to help with ART adherence and desired challenging, individually-tailored, user-friendly games with in-game incentives. Game prototypes were modified accordingly. Conclusions: AYA and their providers supported the use of digital games for ART adherence support. Individualization and in-game incentives were preferable and informed the design of an interactive technology-based adherence intervention among AYA living with HIV.

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