Role of Video Games in Improving Health-Related Outcomes

Video games have been examined for their potential negative health consequences, but also for their therapeutic purposes. Understanding the impact of video games in improving health outcomes was the focus of this systematic review.

Researchers performed literature reviews in February 2010 using six different databases. Studies included were randomized controlled trials testing the effect of video games on positive, clinically relevant health outcomes. A total of 1,452 articles were retrieved; 38 were included, meeting all criteria.


Key Findings

  • They study examined a total of 195 health outcomes.
  • Video games involving physical or psychological therapy were most frequently successful at achieving their purpose.
  • Video games improved 69 percent of psychological therapy outcomes, 59 percent of physical therapy outcomes.
  • Video games aiming to improve disease management were least successful.
  • Study quality was generally poor, with a majority (66%) of studies having a follow-up period of less than 12 weeks. Only 11 percent of the studies included blinded researchers.

This systematic review shows that video games may play a role in improving health across a broad spectrum. Further research including improves measures of quality and more standardized measurement tools are needed.