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Feasibility of Using Games to Improve Healthy Lifestyle Knowledge in Youth Aged 9-16 Years at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Form Res. 2022 Jun 17;6(6):e33089. doi: 10.2196/33089.


BACKGROUND: Mobile games can be effective and motivating tools for promoting children’s health.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to determine the comparative use of 2 prototype serious games for health and assess their effects on healthy lifestyle knowledge in youth aged 9-16 years at risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D).

METHODS: A 3-arm parallel pilot randomized controlled trial was undertaken to determine the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of 2 serious games. Feasibility aspects included recruitment, participant attitudes toward the games, the amount of time the participants played each game at home, and the effects of the games on healthy lifestyle and T2D knowledge. Participants were allocated to play Diabetic Jumper (n=7), Ari and Friends (n=8), or a control game (n=8). All participants completed healthy lifestyle and T2D knowledge questionnaires at baseline, immediately after game play, and 4 weeks after game play. Game attitudes and preferences were also assessed. The primary outcome was the use of the game (specifically, the number of minutes played over 4 weeks).

RESULTS: In terms of feasibility, we were unable to recruit our target of 60 participants. In total, 23 participants were recruited. Participants generally viewed the games positively. There were no statistical differences in healthy lifestyle knowledge or diabetes knowledge over time or across games. Only 1 participant accessed the game for an extended period, playing the game for a total of 33 min over 4 weeks.

CONCLUSIONS: It was not feasible to recruit the target sample for this trial. The 2 prototype serious games were unsuccessful at sustaining long-term game play outside a clinic environment. Based on positive participant attitudes toward the games, it is possible to use these games or similar games as short-term stimuli to engage young people with healthy lifestyle and diabetes knowledge in a clinic setting; however, future research is required to explore this area.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12619000380190;

PMID:35713955 | DOI:10.2196/33089

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