Video Games in Health Care: Closing the Gap

Review of General Psychology
2010, Vol. 14, No. 2, 113–121

Pamela M. Kato
University Medical Center Utrech

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Abstract

Although a great deal of media attention has been given to the negative effects of playing video games,
relatively less attention has been paid to the positive effects of engaging in this activity. Video games in
health care provide ample examples of innovative ways to use existing commercial games for health
improvement or surgical training. Tailor-made games help patients be more adherent to treatment
regimens and train doctors how to manage patients in different clinical situations. In this review,
examples in the scientific literature of commercially available and tailor-made games used for education
and training with patients and medical students and doctors are summarized. There is a history of using
video games with patients from the early days of gaming in the 1980s, and this has evolved into a focus
on making tailor-made games for different disease groups, which have been evaluated in scientific trials
more recently. Commercial video games have been of interest regarding their impact on surgical skill.
More recently, some basic computer games have been developed and evaluated that train doctors in
clinical skills. The studies presented in this article represent a body of work outlining positive effects of
playing video games in the area of health care.

Keywords: video games, interventions, technology, health

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