Educational video game for juvenile diabetes: results of a controlled trial

Med Inform (Lond). 1997 Jan-Mar;22(1):77-89. doi: 10.3109/14639239709089835.


Packy & Marlon, an interactive video game designed to improve self-care among children and adolescents with diabetes, was evaluated in a six-month randomized controlled trial. In the game, players take the role of animated characters who manage their diabetes by monitoring blood glucose, taking insulin injections, and choosing foods, while setting out to save a diabetes summer camp from marauding rats and mice who have stolen the diabetes supplies. Study participants were patients aged 8 to 16 from two separate diabetes clinics. Each participant received a Super Nintendo video game system at an initial clinic visit and was randomly assigned to receive either Packy & Marlon (treatment group, N = 31) or an entertainment video game containing no diabetes-related content (control group, N = 28). Participants were interviewed and a parent filled out a questionnaire at baseline, three months, and six months. The findings in this study indicate that well-designed, educational video games can be effective interventions. There was improvement in the treatment group relative to the control group in terms of diabetes-related self-efficacy (p = 0.07), communication with parents about diabetes (p = 0.025), and self-care behaviours (p = 0.003), and a decrease in unscheduled urgent doctor visits (p = 0.08). There were no significant differences between the groups in knowledge about diabetes or in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels. Since participants in the study were in general well-controlled patients who were receiving excellent medical care, future research is contemplated involving youngsters who are not under good glycaemic control.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Child
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Diet, Diabetic
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Self Care*
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support
  • Video Games*