August 4, 2008 – 12:01 a.m. EST
Study Shows Playing Videogames Can Change Behavior, Biology
Pediatrics publishes data on Re-Mission™ video game showing young cancer patients who played the game took their medications more consistently
Redwood City, CA, August 4, 2008 — Video games are among the most popular entertainment media in the world. Now, groundbreaking research shows that a specially designed video game can promote positive behaviors in young cancer patients that enhance the effectiveness of medical treatment. This research, sponsored by the nonprofit organization HopeLab and published today in the medical journal Pediatrics, provides scientific evidence for a growing field of product development that taps into the positive potential of video games and other popular technology to improve human health.
“We have very effective treatments for cancer in adolescents, but they only work if the patient takes them,” said Steve Cole, Ph.D., vice president of research at HopeLab and co-author of the article. “This study shows that a strategically designed video game can be a powerful new tool to enhance the impact of medical treatment by motivating healthy behavior in the patient.”
The study evaluated the impact of playing Re-Mission™, a video game developed by HopeLab specifically for teens and young adults with cancer, on key behavioral and psychological factors associated with successful cancer treatment. In Re-Mission, players pilot a microscopic robot named Roxxi as she travels through the bodies of fictional cancer patients, blasting away cancer cells and battling the side-effects of cancer and cancer treatments. This study on Re-Mission is the largest randomized, controlled study of a video game intervention ever conducted, following 375 teens and young adults with cancer at 34 medical centers in the United States, Canada and Australia during three months of cancer treatment.
In the study, participants who were given Re-Mission maintained higher levels of chemotherapy in their blood (20%; p=.002) and took their antibiotics more consistently (16%; p=.012) than those in the control group, demonstrating the game’s impact at a biological level. Participants given Re-Mission also showed faster acquisition of cancer-related knowledge (230%; p=.035) and faster increase in self-efficacy (370%; p=.011).
“We now know that games can induce positive changes in the way individuals manage their health,” said Dr. Cole. “The game not only motivates positive health behavior; it also gives players a greater sense of power and control over their disease – in fact, that seems to be its key ingredient.”
Analyses of study data suggest that patients’ increased sense of control over cancer (self efficacy) was a major driver of the game’s effect on medical treatment utilization. To better understand how game play delivers the outcomes highlighted in the Pediatrics article, HopeLab conducted a study that utilizes functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to analyze the brain regions that are activated when people play Re-Mission. Data from this research will be presented in Tokyo at the 10th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine August 27 – 30, 2008.
“The process to create and evaluate Re-Mission was highly collaborative, often challenging, and an incredible learning experience,” said Pam Omidyar, HopeLab founder and board chair. “The publication of Re-Mission data represents the fulfillment of HopeLab’s founding vision – that rationally engineered technology can be a powerful tool to improve the health of young people.”
Other study authors include Pamela M. Kato, Ph.D., Ed.M.; Andrew S. Bradlyn, Ph.D., and Brad H. Pollock, Ph.D., MPH. HopeLab is applying insights gained from the development and study of Re-Mission to inform ongoing work in cancer, as well as innovative approaches to address obesity and other chronic diseases that impact young people.
To read the entire Pediatrics article, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/122/2/e305.
About the Re-Mission™ Video Game
Re-Mission combines biologic accuracy with an honest depiction of the challenges faced by young cancer patients. Re-Mission’s main character, Roxxi, is a gutsy, fully-armed nanobot who seeks out and destroys cancer cells throughout the human body, battling cancer and its life-threatening effects. Through 20 different levels of game play, Re-Mission illustrates what occurs inside the bodies of young cancer patients and how they can most effectively fight their disease.
HopeLab has distributed more than 125,000 free copies of Re-Mission in 80 countries since its release in April 2006. Re-Mission is available to download or order at www.re-mission.net. The game is available in English, Spanish and French and is free of charge to young people with cancer, their families and caregivers; a $20 donation is suggested to others interested in receiving a copy of the game. Re-Mission is also distributed through partnerships with organizations that support HopeLab’s commitment to provide Re-Mission free of charge to young cancer patients, including CIGNA HealthCare (www.CIGNA.com/Re-Mission), the ESA Foundation (www.theesa.com/foundation), and Starlight Children’s Foundation (www.starlight.org). Re-Mission is rated T (Teen) by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
HopeLab is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by Board Chair Pam Omidyar. HopeLab combines rigorous research with innovative solutions to improve the health and quality of life of young people living with chronic illness. HopeLab applies a research-based, customer-focused development model to create products that address chronic illnesses in young people, including cancer, obesity, sickle cell disease, major depressive disorder and autism. For more information, please visit www.hopelab.org.