Thanks to new grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, video games may soon be just what the doctor ordered.
RWJF has announced $1.85 million in research grants, through the Health Games Research national program, to fund nine research teams investigating how digital games can improve patients’ health behaviors and outcomes.
Among the nine research projects, which were chosen from 185 proposals, is a study that will investigate how the dance video game Dance Dance Revolution could help Parkinson’s patients reduce the risk of falling, one that will investigate the use of mobile phone games with breath interference to help smokers quit or reduce their tobacco use, one that investigates facial recognition games for use with helping autism patients identify emotions, and one that uses the Wii Active video game platform to help reduce obesity rates in high school students.
Each project will receive $100,000 to $300,000 to fund one- to two-year studies, focusing on diverse population groups.
"Digital games are interactive and experiential, and so they can engage people in powerful ways to enhance learning and health behavior change, especially when they are designed on the basis of well-researched strategies," said Lieberman. "The studies funded by Health Games Research will provide cutting-edge, evidence-based strategies that designers will be able to use in the future to make their health games more effective."
Health Games Research is funded by an $8.25 million grant from RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio, and is headquartered at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The most recent grant marks the second round of funding, to support the program’s mission of finding breakthrough improvements in the future of health and healthcare.