Gamification: Intervention app may improve mental health

A new randomized control trial has found that turning mobile mental health intervention into a smartphone game can potentially improve well-being.

Photo
eQuoo Interactive Game 1
Source: PsycApps

The five-week study conducted by Silja Litvin at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and her colleagues shows that gamifying the content of mobile interventions improved resilience, a key character trait that reduces the susceptibility to depression, stress, and anxiety.

Mobile mental health apps have the potential to act as interventions for depression and anxiety, but their effectiveness appears limited with studies showing that individuals do not stick with the routine for long periods of time. To improve their effectiveness, the authors proposed turning intervention content into a game that includes levels that need passing, feedback, points, and other gaming elements. A five-week randomized control trial was completed by 358 participants who were assigned to one of three groups: gamified intervention app, normal intervention app, and waitlisted with no app. Resilience and anxiety were measured by self-report surveys at three time points.

The authors add: "eQuoo [the gamified intervention app] was able to show that it not only had a significant and beneficial impact on the participant's mental wellbeing but that gamifying therapies counterbalances sky-high attrition rates most mental health apps struggle with, especially in the demographic of 18-35-year-olds."

The research was published in journal PLOS ONE.

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