Online games help diabetic patients control blood glucose

Playing online team games can help diabetes patients lower their blood glucose levels, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.

Researchers examined if providing patients with diabetes self-management education (DSME) through online team-based games could improve patient engagement in their own care. The study, conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, enrolled 456 patients on oral diabetes medication and assigned them to receive a DSME game with a booklet or a civics game with DSME booklet.

The six-month study included sending users two questions twice a week by email or mobile app allowing participants to earn points and receive financial rewards. Researchers aimed to prove that these games would improve blood glucose control in diabetic patients with the influx of weekly information and engagement. Results showed that DSME game patients were able to reduce blood sugar when compared to patients in the civics game patient group.

“Patients with diabetes who were randomized to an online game delivering DSME demonstrated sustained and meaningful blood sugar improvements,” concluded first author B. Price Kerfoot and colleagues. “Among patients with poorly controlled diabetes, the DSME game reduced blood sugar by a magnitude comparable to starting a new diabetes medication. Online games may be a scalable approach to improve outcomes among geographically dispersed patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases.”