A systematic review of serious games in asthma education

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Asthma education leads to significant improvement in controlling the disease and reduces emergency department visits and hospital admissions 1. It is recognized to be an essential element in the management of asthmatic patients and is recommended by national and international guidelines 4. However, attendance at asthma education programs is low 6. Barriers that have been identified include difficulty getting time off work, travel costs, psychologic factors, and physician resistance 6. New approaches are required to reach patients and teach them asthma management.
Serious games (SGs) are theoretically very useful tools for health education in general, and asthma education in particular. According to Bergeron, SGs are interactive computer applications, with or without a hardware component, that (i) have challenging goals, (ii) are fun to play and/or engaging, (iii) incorporate concepts of scoring, (iv) and impart skills, knowledge, or attitudes to the user that can be applied in the real world 9. From an educational perspective, they promote active learning, which is more effective than traditional didactic lectures for both knowledge acquisition and behavioral changes 10; they provide feedback, essential for learning 13; they promote deliberate practice by offering repetition of each game level until mastery is reached 14; and they encourage perseverance during the learning process because they are fun. From a healthcare perspective, SGs can teach patients to better understand the pathophysiology of asthma and the objectives of its treatments, to identify rare situations such as asthma attacks, and to practice several skills such as the inhalation technique. Finally, the accessibility of SGs is wider than classic asthma education programs and may reach many more patients. For these reasons, SGs can be considered to be new tools for changing patients’ behaviors and outcomes regarding their asthma 15.
Previous reviews in the field were published more than 5 years ago 15, were not systematic 15, did not distinguish SGs from other computer‐assisted instructions 18, and/or did not focus on asthma education 21.
The objectives of this systematic review were to identify the available articles on SGs designed to educate patients and the general public about asthma and to assess their impact on patient's knowledge, behavior and clinical outcomes related to asthma.

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