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Board Games Can Improve Health-Related Knowledge and Behaviours

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Board games can engage patients in play and fantasy, and by enabling face-to-face interaction, can help educate patients on health-related knowledge and behaviours. A new systemic review and meta-analysis of trials assessing the outcomes achieved using board games in children through older adults is published in Games for Health, a peer-reviewed publication. 

The application of game design approaches and technologies has gained popularity in healthcare as a means of creating more engaging interventions, which can improve knowledge, change real-world behaviors, and subsequently impact therapeutic outcomes. Although digital games are popular, non-digital formats have also been addressed in the research literature. Board games have a history of use in therapeutic contexts.

Andrea Gauthier (University of Toronto), Pamela Kato, Kim Bul, Ian Dunwell, and Petros Lameras (Coventry University), and Aimee Walker-Clarke (University of Warwick) co-authored the article entitled ‘Board games for health: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis’. The article evaluated 21 studies of non-digital board games, the majority of which used education to increase health-related knowledge and behaviours.

The goal of the systemic review and meta-analysis was to answer two main questions: What kinds of board games targeting medical and health-related outcomes have been evaluated in the literature; and what has been the overall impact of the board games on health-related outcomes?

‘While most attention has been given to video games for health, board games can reach large numbers of people and have been generally well received, but have they had the desired effects? Gauthier and colleagues’ meta-analysis revealed promising results. Board games may provide a lower cost, widely disseminable method for delivering the benefits of games for health,’ says Dr Tom Baranowski, Editor-in-Chief of Games for Health Journal. 

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