Effective intervention or child's play? A review of video games for diabetes education

Diabetes Technol Ther. 2010 Oct;12(10):815-22. doi: 10.1089/dia.2010.0030.


Background: The purpose of this study is (1) to identify diabetes education video games and pilot studies in the literature, (2) to review themes in diabetes video game design and evaluation, and (3) to evaluate the potential role of educational video games in diabetes self-management education.

Methods: Studies were systematically identified for inclusion from Medline, Web of Science, CINAHL, EMBASE, Psychinfo, IEEE Xplore, and ACM Digital Library. Features of each video game intervention were reviewed and coded based on an existing taxonomy of diabetes interventions framework.

Results: Nine studies featuring 11 video games for diabetes care were identified. Video games for diabetes have typically targeted children with type 1 diabetes mellitus and used situation problem-solving methods to teach diet, exercise, self-monitored blood glucose, and medication adherence. Evaluations have shown positive outcomes in knowledge, disease management adherence, and clinical outcomes.

Conclusions: Video games for diabetes education show potential as effective educational interventions. Yet we found that improvements are needed in expanding the target audience, tailoring the intervention, and using theoretical frameworks. In the future, the reach and effectiveness of educational video games for diabetes education could be improved by expanding the target audience beyond juvenile type 1 diabetes mellitus, the use of tailoring, and increased use of theoretical frameworks.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Classification
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / classification
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Problem Solving
  • Self Care*
  • Video Games*