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Tag: games and gamification

Preventing mental illness in children that experienced maltreatment the efficacy of REThink online therapeutic game

David OA & Fodor LA. Preventing mental illness in children that experienced maltreatment the efficacy of REThink online therapeutic game. npj Digit. Med. 6, 106 (2023).

This article reports on a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of REThink, an online therapeutic game, compared to usual care in preventing mental illness in children who have experienced maltreatment. REThink was developed based on a transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral therapy and has an action and adventure approach to learning and practicing therapeutic tasks. Each REThink level/session is completed weekly using a mobile device under the supervision of study staff. Children aged 8-12 years with self-reported maltreatment history (N=294) were recruited from schools. Participants completed pre- and post-intervention assessments measuring mental health, emotion regulation, and irrational cognitions. In the REThink group, 65% of the children completed all of the levels/sessions of the game and 18% dropped out from treatment. The REThink intervention arm was found to have a significantly lower level of emotional problems (d=0.42, p=0.001), mental health problems (d=0.35, p=0.007), maladaptive emotion regulation strategies (catastrophizing: d=0.41, p=0.002; self-blame: d=0.26, p=0.017) and irrational cognitions (d=0.54, p<0.001) compared to the control arm post-intervention. Additionally, children with higher maltreatment severity benefitted the most from the REThink game and children with lower parent attachment security benefited the least. Future research is needed to test the long-term efficacy of the REThink game.


Mixed methods evaluation of vaping and tobacco product use prevention interventions among youth in the Florida 4-H program

Bteddini DS, LeLaurin JH, Chi X, Hall JM, Theis RP, Gurka MJ, Lee J-H, Mobley EM, Khalil GE, Polansky CJ, Kellner AM, Fahnlander AM, Kelder SH, Fiellin LE, Gutter MS, Shenkman EA, & Salloum RG. (2023). Mixed methods evaluation of vaping and tobacco product use prevention interventions among youth in the Florida 4-H program. Addictive Behaviors, 141, 107637–107637.

This pilot study tested the delivery feasibility and outcomes of two programs, CATCH My Breath and smokeSCREEN, among youth in rural settings in Florida. Eighty-two youth participants (aged 11-17) were recruited from rural youth clubs in Florida and randomly assigned to one of three arms: CATCH My Breath, smokeSCREEN, and control (receiving educational flyers). CATCH My Breath and smokescreen are prevention interventions that focus on promoting healthy behaviors and increasing awareness of vaping and tobacco use. CATCH My Breath consists of four interactive modules on vaping prevention delivered over Zoom group sessions weekly for four w eeks. smokeSCREEN is a smoking and vaping prevention video game and was delivered individually to adolescents. Participants from both intervention arms were also invited join group Zoom discussions weekly for four weeks to discuss the game. Out of the participants in the intervention arms, 83.7% attended the majority of group Zoom sessions. After the intervention, CATCH My Breath participants showed significant improvement in tobacco knowledge (post-pre=3.3, p<.01) and risk perceptions for other flavored tobacco products (post-pre=1.6, p<.05). Post intervention, smokeSCREEN participants demonstrated significantly improved tobacco knowledge (post-pre=5.0, p<.01), e-cigarettes knowledge (post-pre=2.8, p<.01) and risk perception towards e-cigarettes (post-pre=2.8, p<.05). In the control group, only risk perception to cigarettes significantly changed (post-pre=1.1, p<.01). Findings show positive feasibility and immediate positive impact of these digital intervention games augmented by virtual group sessions. Future work is needed to differentiate the impact of digital games from that of virtual group discussions. Investigations with larger samples and a longer follow-up period to evaluate longer-term impact are needed.


Gaming My Way to Recovery: A Systematic Scoping Review of Digital Game Interventions for Young People’s Mental Health Treatment and Promotion

Ferrari M, Sabetti J, McIlwaine SV, Fazeli S, Sadati SMH, Shah JL, Archie S, Boydell KM, Lal S, Henderson J, Alvarez-Jimenez M, Andersson N, Nielsen RKL, Reynolds JA and Iyer SN (2022) Gaming My Way to Recovery: A Systematic Scoping Review of Digital Game Interventions for Young People’s Mental Health Treatment and Promotion. Front. Digit. Health 4:814248. doi: 10.3389/fdgth.2022.814248

This review summarized literature on video game interventions for young people (ages 12-29) and mapped the evidence for game use to support mental health and substance use treatment for youth people, how stakeholders were involved in program development, and potential harms or ethical issues. Forty-nine studies testing 32 digital games were identified. An adapted stepped care model based on illness manifestation and severity was used as a conceptual framework for organizing target populations, mental health outcome, video games, and study results. Ten studies (20%) targeted mental health prevention or education for undiagnosed youth (Step 0), 6 studies (12%) targeted at-risk groups or suspected mental health problems (Step 1), 24 studies (49%) targeted mild to moderate conditions (Steps 2-3), and 9 studies (18%) targeted severe and complex conditions (Step 4). The majority (66%) of studies targeted youth (19 years or younger) , as opposed to young adults. 11 of the games made clear efforts to promote equity and inclusiveness in focusing on minority youth and low-resource settings. Eleven studies were mixed method or qualitative studies. Two-thirds of quantitative studies (N=38) reported significant improvement on at least one key mental health outcome. The review also found evidence of high user satisfaction and program adherence. There were a range of identified issues such as limited game elements, storylines, lack of personalization or cultural fit, and lack of therapist support. Most studies included stakeholder feedback in developing and evaluating videogames. Results indicated the need for greater attention to participation of young end-users in game development to improve engagement, and to eliciting participation by service providers and family to promote the integration of games as standard tools for mental health treatment for youth.


Women in Business 2022 – Lynn E. Fiellin

Article Excerpt: Lynn Fiellin’s community-based program, the play2PREVENT Lab at Yale, focuses on building and testing videogame interventions targeting the most critical health outcomes impacting teens including mental health, addiction and sexual health. She has built sustained relationships with stakeholders, bridging an important gap in providing evidence-based youth health interventions. She has carried these accomplishments with her to her company Playbl with the goal of getting these videogames into the hands of as many kids as possible.

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Article Source: New Haven Biz


Rewarding Healthy Behaviors

Article Excerpt: Human behavior is difficult to manage: Why do people do the things they do, even when some habits are bad for them? And how can they change these behaviors? Bethany Raiff, Ph.D., a professor of psychology in the College of Science & Mathematics, has designed incentive-based approaches, often using technology, to help people quit smoking, attend treatment for opioid use disorder, and engage in physical activity. “We make a lot of decisions that are not always in our best interest,” Raiff said. “I am trying to understand how to shift people’s decision-making toward healthier behavior.”

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Article Source: Rowan University News


Experts Are Betting on Games to Fix Mental Health Tech Today

Article Excerpt: Although the mental health tech space has been growing rapidly even before the pandemic, some reckon it may not be as effective as we wish it to be. Interestingly, the money is on gaming today – to fix the rising number of mental health issues. Self-help of some form may well have to be a solution to this situation, due to the fact that more than half the people who need mental health care do not receive it. No doubt, to close the widening gap, some people have turned to mental-health apps for solace: some of which claim to provide everything from cognitive behavioral therapy to guided meditation.

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Article Source: Tech HQ


A gamified app for supporting undergraduate students’ mental health: A feasibility and usability study

Nicolaidou I, Aristeidis L, Lambrinos L. A gamified app for supporting undergraduate students’ mental health: A feasibility and usability study. Digit Health. 2022;8:20552076221109059. Published 2022 Jun 21. doi:10.1177/20552076221109059

This study aimed to address the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on undergraduate students by designing and testing feasibility, acceptability, and usability of Student Stress Resilience, a gamified mobile app that provides personalized data and focuses on enhancing students’ resilience. The app design is based on a theory of nine behavioral change techniques: action planning, feedback on outcomes, self-monitoring of behavior, social support, social comparison, prompts/cues, achievements, and incentives. The app includes a daily goal setting component for studying, exercising, or socializing. The app also tracks progress by using data from the smartphone accelerometer and sound sensor and from self-reported anxiety measurements and reflection on performance. App users receive points and badges for completing challenges. Social interaction is facilitated by allowing users to share their progress with others and the inclusion of a leaderboard. Adult undergraduate students (N=74) evaluated the prototype for Student Stress Resilience and completed an online survey on feasibility for supporting resilience and usability. Overall, participants gave positive feedback (3.76 out of 5 rating, on average) on all app functions for improving psychological resilience. Usability was satisfactory and 93% said they would be interested in continuing to use the app once it is fully developed. Student Stress Resilience is a promising mobile app to support mental health for the general student non-clinical population. Following the development of a fully functioning app, future research should evaluate Student Stress Resilience in a randomized controlled trial.


Murphy Highlights New Haven’s Playbl as “Innovator of the Month”

Article Excerpt: U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced that Playbl, based in New Haven, has been named May’s “Innovator of the Month.” Playbl, a spin-out company from the play2PREVENT (p2P) Lab at the Yale Center for Health and Learning Games, produces evidence-informed digital health games to promote wellness and risk prevention for young people. Supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, their work provides scalable research-based digital solutions to help schools tackle education on critical health topics for their students, including mental health, substance use, and sexual health…“We have both lived and worked in New Haven for many years and are so excited to see the growth of innovation in the state. Playbl is poised to significantly contribute to that growth as we focus on helping teens live healthier and happier lives and we are deeply honored by Senator Murphy’s recognition,” said Playbl’s principals Lynn E. Fiellin, MD and Anusha Raja, MD, MBA.

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Article Source: Murphy Press Releases


Game-Based Therapies and The Attraction of Engaging Patients

Article Excerpt: The appeal of developing game-based therapeutics shares many similarities with digital therapeutics in general. Broadly, this means that they can offer great convenience to patients, be more likely to improve adherence, allow for direct feedback to healthcare professionals, and allow patients to be in control of their own health. An added benefit for game-based therapies is that part of the goal in the development process is for the tools to be entertaining, which means that not only can the therapies provide health benefits, but they can also become a welcome part of an individual’s health regime.

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Article Source: Pharmaphorum