Treatments of internet gaming disorder: a systematic review of the evidence

Expert Rev Neurother. 2020 Jan;20(1):85-93. doi: 10.1080/14737175.2020.1671824. Epub 2019 Sep 26.


Introduction: The American Psychiatric Association included Internet gaming disorder (IGD) in the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the World Health Organization included gaming disorder in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. These recent updates suggest significant concern related to the harms of excessive gaming.Areas covered: This systematic review provides an updated summary of the scientific literature on treatments for IGD. Inclusion criteria were that studies: 1) evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention for IGD or excessive gaming; 2) use an experimental design (i.e. multi-armed [randomized or nonrandomized] or pretest-posttest); 3) include at least 10 participants per group; and 4) include an outcome measure of IGD symptoms or gaming duration. The review identified 22 studies evaluating treatments for IGD: 8 evaluating medication, 7 evaluating cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, and 7 evaluating other interventions and psychosocial treatments.Expert opinion: Even with the recent uptick in publication of such clinical trials, methodological flaws prevent strong conclusions about the efficacy of any treatment for IGD. Additional well-designed clinical trials using common metrics for assessing IGD symptoms are needed to advance the field.

Keywords: Internet gaming disorder; excessive gaming; systematic review; treatment; video game addiction.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Internet Addiction Disorder / drug therapy
  • Internet Addiction Disorder / therapy*
  • Psychosocial Intervention*
  • Video Games*