Objective: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials assessing the effectiveness of serious games in improving knowledge and/or self-management behaviors in young people with chronic conditions.
Materials and methods: The authors searched the databases PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Sciences, and PsychINFO for articles published between January 1990 and January 2014. Reference lists were hand-searched to retrieve additional studies. Randomized controlled trials that compared a digital game with either standard education or no specific education in a population of children and/or adolescents with chronic conditions were included.
Results: The authors identified 9 studies in which the effectiveness of serious games in young people with chronic conditions was evaluated using a randomized controlled trials design. Six studies found a significant improvement of knowledge in the game group from pretest to posttest; 4 studies showed significantly better knowledge in the game group than in the control group after the intervention. Two studies reported significantly better self-management in the game group than in the control group after the intervention. Seven studies were included in the meta-analysis. For knowledge, pooled estimate of Hedges' gu was 0.361 (95% confidence intervals, 0.098-0.624), demonstrating that serious games improve knowledge in patients. For self-management, pooled estimate of Hedges' gu was 0.310 (95% confidence intervals, 0.122-0.497), showing that gaming improves self-management behaviors.
Conclusions: The authors' meta-analysis shows that educational video games can be effective in improving knowledge and self-management in young people with chronic conditions.
Keywords: children; chronic conditions; knowledge; self-management; serious games.
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