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Games Health J. 2018 Sep 8. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2018.0011. [Epub ahead of print]

Role of Digital Games in Self-Management of Cardiovascular Diseases: A Scoping Review.

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1 School of Nursing, The University of Texas-Austin , Austin, Texas.
2 Department of Pediatrics-Nutrition, Baylor College of Medicine , Houston, Texas.
3 Mobile and Pervasive Computing Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Texas-Austin , Austin, Texas.
4 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, School of Information, The University of Texas-Austin , Austin, Texas.
5 School of Nursing, The University of Texas-Austin , Austin, Texas.



Examine research on the use of digital games to improve self-management (SM) behaviors in patients diagnosed with cardiovascular diagnoses of hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, or myocardial infarction.


For this scoping review, the CINAHL, PubMed, and Web of Science databases were searched for studies published from January 1, 2008 to December 20, 2017 using terms relevant to digital games and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).


Eight articles met the inclusion/exclusion criteria, seven of which presented studies with participants 50 years or older. Five of the eight studies assessed physical activity. Only two studies included a control group. Digital games significantly improved exercise capacity and energy expenditure but did not affect quality of life, self-efficacy, anxiety, or depression. Digital games were found enjoyable by 79%-93% of participants, including those with lower education or age; however, barriers to game use included being tired or bored, lack of interest in digital games, poor perception of fitness through games, sensor limitations, conflicts with daily life routine, and preferences for group exercise. Average adherence ranged from 70% to 100% over 2 weeks to 6 months of study duration, with higher adherence rates in studies that included human contact through supervision or social support.


Paucity of studies about digital games for CVD SM behaviors precludes the need to undertake a full systematic review. Future studies examining digital games should include larger sample sizes, longer durations, game-design guided by behavioral change theoretical frameworks, and CVD SM behaviors in addition to physical activity behaviors.


Cardiovascular; Digital games; Self-management


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