Interactive game could reduce heart attack deaths by teaching rapid response to symptoms

An experimental interactive game could save lives by teaching potential heart attack victims to react swiftly at the first sign of a heart attack, according to a paper being presented at a convention of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

The paper, The Use of Virtual Worlds and Animated Personas to Improve Health Care Knowledge & Self-Care Behavior: The HEART-SENSE Game, is by Barry G. Silverman and John Holmes of the University of Pennsylvania. They will speak in San Antonio's Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Monday, Nov. 6.

The paper introduces an interactive computer game that teaches potential heart attack victims to respond quickly to early warning signs of a heart attack by acknowledging the possibility of a heart attack and immediately calling 911.

Studies suggest that computer-based patient education improves many dimensions of health and health care, including prevention, compliance, and patient choices about treatment options. To assist with developing such training devices, this game pioneers a generic simulator consistent with patient behavior change theory, and it includes re-programmable virtual personas that can be applied to other health topics in addition to heart attack domains.

NIH Funding

The paper and related research was conducted with financial support from the National Institute of Health's National Heart Attack Alert Program and the National Library of Medicine.

The HEART-SENSE GAME is a multi-media interactive, computer-based health promotion program designed to improve health knowledge and influence behavior among individuals thought to be at risk of acute myocardial infarction.

The HEART-SENSE game has targeted "delay in calling 911" as opposed to a more general goal such as 'improved heart health." Behavior theorists contend that the most effective interventions are those directed at a single behavior rather than at multiple behaviors.


Contact: Barry List
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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