Wednesday, August 03, 2016

I Never Thought Pokémon GO Would Feature On This Blog – Well Now It Does!

This appeared last week:

Pokémon GO as a health tool

Christopher Timms
Monday, 25 July, 2016
THOUSANDS of Australians have been walking the streets, parks and beaches of their cities with eyes glued to their smartphones following the recent release of a game called Pokémon GO.
Pokémon GO is a new, free, smartphone game that augments reality and requires users to walk around in the physical world to progress through the game. The smartphone’s camera captures the surrounding environment and integrates Pokémon characters into the scene.
Players are rewarded for exploring their environment and walking between certain landmarks, or “PokéStops”, which tend to be places of cultural significance, museums, scenic lookouts or even government buildings.
Walking is an integral part of the game – allowing players to capture more Pokémon, hatch eggs or obtain useful tools, such as health potions.
It’s the walking part of the game that may just make Pokémon GO an exciting tool that health care professionals should be aware of, and one that highlights the need for further discussion about the use of video gaming in health care.
An in-game feature, called a “lure”, can be used to create a location abundant in Pokémon. Now, imagine how the ability to attract people to locations could be used for health. If particular demographics could be targeted, potential uses might be a rare Pokémon appearing near a health careers booth in a rural area, near a dietitian’s stall or appearing at a mental health awareness event.
These are things health care providers should be thinking about, talking about and be familiar with for our patients. 
Gaming is prevalent in the patients we see, simply because so many people play. The Bond University Digital Australia Survey 2016 showed that 98% of homes with children have video games, the average age of video game players is now 33 years old, 47% of video game players are female, and approximately 68% of the population plays. This is a huge percentage of patient demographics from school age through to our oldest citizens.
While many doctors are familiar with using a game to distract a crying child in the emergency department, there is a much broader potential in paediatrics.
Twenty years ago, the use of video games at school was limited to crunching numbers on Math Blaster. Health care professionals might now be required to discuss Pokémon GO as a weight-loss tool or know to ask if a teenager is experiencing cyber bullying via a game.
In America, in 2010, the state of West Virginia committed to installing the active video game DanceDance Revolution in all 765 of its public schools to encourage students to exercise.
In the same way we learn about Peppa Pig so we can interact with our younger patients, we should understand gaming in order to better connect with our patients who are gamers.
Dr Christopher Timms is a GP registrar based in Port Macquarie, NSW.
Lots more here:
Congratulations to Dr Timms for making the game understandable for non-players and then for explaining how the game might have some health benefits!
Normal service will now be resumed!


Terry Hannan said...

From Enrico Coiera and Alain Labrique

Enrico Coiera said...

Thanks for sharing this David.

Here are two more Pokemon Go blogs that focus on its implications for weight loss, and for population interventions, one of which I wrote the other day. It is still early days, but there are clear opportunities to learn from this emerging class of population level intervention.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there is no evidence that exercise makes any difference to weight loss. They need to encourage people to go to the butcher and fruit and vegetable shops to have any effect. Its hard to believe that is true, but it is, there is no evidence whatsoever for exercise...

Of course its promoted by government as a solution, but obesity has probably been caused by evidence free dietary recommendations thanks to uncle sam. I am starting to see a pattern here, after all the PCEHR is going to save us billions, although I can't possibly see how. Its another evidence free zone. After seeing how much "good" government have done in the last 50 years I am starting to think of the Libertarians as attractive

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately there is no evidence that exercise makes any difference to weight loss. "

Well I would hope on a blog site like this that you would point to that negative evidence rather than just assert it exists. Clearly weight loss requires a set of strategies, and exercise is amongst them. Just to get you going, here is some positive evidence - in the form of peer reviewed systematic reviews in peak journals. I look forward to your evidence against the proposition.

Anonymous said...

I am not saying that exercise is bad, just that its not a good strategy for weight loss. People with lower weights are more active but that may well be related to the obesity, so you can't say increasing exercise will reduce obesity. Exercise has health benefits, its just that weight loss is not one of them.

This is what uptodate says:

"Exercise programs added to diets with moderate to severe caloric restriction have little additional effect upon weight loss. As an example, a systematic review of 17 randomized trials in overweight and obese patients (body mass index [BMI] 25 to 37 kg/m2) showed that compared with weight loss by diet alone, adding exercise to diet produced slightly greater weight loss than diet alone (mean increase in weight loss approximately 1.5 kg) [27]. However the results were statistically significant in only two of the trials. The exercise interventions ranged from 60 to 240 minutes/week. Similar findings were subsequently reported in obese older adults (mean age 70 years) who were randomly assigned to diet or exercise alone, diet plus exercise, or control [28]. Body weight decreased similarly in the diet alone and the diet plus exercise groups (10 and 9 percent, respectively), but did not decrease in the exercise alone or control groups."