Educational Use of Digital Games (Serious Games) in the Health Field

Educational Use of Digital Games (Serious Games) in the Health Field


Federal Federal University of Pernambuco – Recife/ Brazil

Research Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacy-2d Code

Nowadays, the world experiences the adoption of several technological innovations and digital media such as text messages, access to websites, social networks, mobile phones and computers with internet and games and this fact has interfered individuals and their relationship with their culture, education, work and health. With advances in the development of digital games, it have emerged digital educational games or serious games, which have purposes that are not restricted to entertainment, but include specific objectives that provide some experience and learning. This type of game provides for the people applying the learnings, which they acquired in their own lives and their behaviors and attitudes. In health, the use of serious games can be a specific feature to promote a greater interest and meaning in the treatment as well as education and awareness of their users. Thus, the aim of this paper is discussing the use of serious games in the healthcare field. This text was built on an initial search of articles in the Bireme database, with the serious game and health terms as descriptors. The discussions presented here are part of the research project “Validation of digital educational game as an educational technology directed to promote the adolescents’ health”, which it is being developed at the Postgraduate Program in Child and Adolescent in the university. It was considered a total of 14 articles, 12 international journal articles and two national journal articles. The study Watters et al. (2006) explored the use of games with children that were in a long-term treatment regimen, and as a result, it was observed that they had enough motivation during treatment. The study Papastergiou (2009) did a review of 34 articles that reported the use of games articulating health education and physical education and presented a summary of the available empirical evidence on the educational effectiveness of them. In the study by Machado et al. (2009), there is a classification of types of games related to the health field, including therapy assistants; fitness and health promoters; Health monitors and auxiliaries for training. The study Rego et al. (2010) proposed a classification to distinguish and compare the features of 8 specific serious games for rehabilitation systems. Furthermore, he described a case study of a serious game designed to promote rehabilitation. In the study by Connolly et al. (2012) was held from January of 2004 to February of 2009, a systematic review of literature in order to highlight the positive impact of computer games and serious games for users on the learning, skills enhancement and engagement. As a result, the use of games brought perceptive, cognitive, behavioral, affective and motivational impacts. Duarte at al. study (2012) shows the relationship between serious games for health for taking the focus in the pain when therapeutic interventions are painful, for monitoring and promoting health as well as improving patients’ fitness. The study Wattanasoontorn et al. (2013) reveals that the use of serious games can be a specific way to promote a greater interest and meaning in training, education and assessment of their members. Moreover, it can be used in education and training of health professionals in order to prevent future errors or in rehabilitation processes. The study Matsunaga et al. (2014) showed that serious games in physical rehabilitation department has improved the outcome of patients and they have been used to make them more conscious about their own treatment, increasing its membership. The study by Bowen et al. (2014) provides an overview of the development of a serious game. In addition, presents an intervention with adolescents using the game in order to make them aware regarding to violence during the dating and it also makes an analysis of the description of them and about their experience with the game. The study Alamri et al. (2014) describes the monitoring of 150 undergraduate students with overweight and obesity through a serious game. Through the game, students did physical exercise through play and they were accompanied by some parameters such as heart rate, step count and calories loss. The study by Rodriguez et al. (2014) did a systematic review of articles from the 2000s that addressed the issue about alcohol, drugs and serious games with teenagers. In this review, we found 8 articles and as a result it was seen that serious games can significantly increase knowledge in this matter. The study Shegog et al. (2015) states that serious games are an important attraction to talk about sex education to young people compared to the Education traditional format. DeSmet et al. (2015) present a systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions on sexual health involving serious games. In Klein et al. rearch (2015) there was the creation and evaluation of a game about home child rehabilitation program and adolescents with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) confirming that the attitudes that these patients need to take in daily life. After that, the game was available on the internet. Based on these descriptions, it is understood the importance of studies in the national level which focus on the use of serious games for health. Overall, the articles point out the effectiveness of serious games in order to monitor and promote health as well as improve patients’ fitness. In the ​​physical rehabilitation context, it has improved the patients’ outcomes and it hasbeing used strategically to make them more conscious about their own treatment and engaged in the therapeutic process. In this context, serious games can stimulate professionals discover new ideas in health care as well as being an effective tool to stimulate the patients’ learning. In health promotion processes, these digital games are potential resources for using action, they are permeated by motivation, they reinforce skills and promote decision-making. Moreover, it can also gather new information and associate them with prior knowledge and experiences, allowing an active participation of the individual, influencing their protagonism in the therapeutic process and in health care. It is emphasized which the results presented and discussed are characterized as an initial approach to the subject that it was studied. In the health field, the use of serious games promotes the opportunity for patients to experience situations, build knowledge, thus being an important way of promoting health and awareness among them. Furthermore, it has proven to be a strategic tool in training and intervention of health professionals.

Keywords:  games; health; review

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