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Title: A meta-analysis of serious digital games for healthy lifestyle promotion

item DESMET, ANN - Ghent University
item VAN RYCKEGHEM, DIMITRI - Ghent University
item COMPERNOLLE, SOFIE - Ghent University
item BARANOWSKI, TOM - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item CROMBEZ, GEERT - Ghent University
item POELS, KAROLIEN - University Of Antwerp
item VAN LIPPEVELDE, WENDY - Ghent University
item BASTIAENSENS, SARA - University Of Antwerp
item VAN CLEEMPUT, KATRIEN - University Of Antwerp
item VANDEBOSCH, HEIDI - University Of Antwerp
item DE BOURDEAUDHUIJ, ILSE - Ghent University

Submitted to: Preventive Medicine
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/18/2014
Publication Date: 12/1/2014
Citation: DeSmet, A., Van Ryckeghem, D., Compernolle, S., Baranowski, T., Thompson, D.J., Crombez, G., Poels, K., Van Lippevelde, W., Bastiaensens, S., Van Cleemput, K., Vandebosch, H., De Bourdeaudhuij, I. 2014. A meta-analysis of serious digital games for healthy lifestyle promotion. Preventive Medicine. 69:95-107.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Several systematic reviews have described health-promoting effects of serious games, but so far no meta-analysis has been reported. This paper presents a meta-analysis of 54 serious digital game studies for healthy lifestyle promotion, in which we investigated the overall effectiveness of serious digital games on healthy lifestyle promotion outcomes and the role of theoretically and clinically important moderators. Findings showed that serious games have small positive effects on healthy lifestyles (g=0.260, 95% CI 0.148; 0.373) and their determinants (g=0.334, 95% CI 0.260; 0.407), especially for knowledge. Effects on clinical outcomes were significant, but much smaller (g=0.079, 95% CI 0.038; 0.120). Long-term effects were maintained for all outcomes except for behavior. Serious games are best individually tailored to both socio-demographic and change need information, and benefit from a strong focus on game theories or a dual theoretical foundation in both behavioral prediction and game theories. They can be effective either as a stand-alone or multi-component programs, and appeal to populations regardless of age and gender. Given that effects of games remain heterogeneous, further explorations of which game features create larger effects are needed.