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Doctors Who Play Online Games Take Better Control Of Blood Pressure In Their Patients, Study Finds

Update Date: May 21, 2014 04:51 AM EDT
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Primary care providers who played online games to solve clinical cases about hypertension management improved blood pressure control of their patients in a shorter amount of time compared to non-gamer doctors, according to a new study. 

"This study is the first to show that an online educational game among medical professionals can improve the health measures of their patients," said Alexander Turchin, MD, MS, director of Informatics Research, BWH Division of Endocrinology, co-lead study author, in the press release.

Researchers leveraged spaced education - a learning concept in which students are presented information over spaced intervals of time - to find that primary care clinicians who participated in an online spaced-education game, improved their knowledge of managing high blood pressure. Researchers also found that it generated a modest but significant decrease in the time it took for their patients with high blood pressure to reach their blood pressure target. 

Researchers also found that patients of clinicians playing the game lowered their blood pressure to their target level in 142 days compared to 148 days for those whose clinicians read an online posting.

Researchers said anyone can enroll in the spaced-education game for free at Qstream (http://qstream.com/vabpgame) - a start-up company launched by Harvard to develop and disseminate the spaced-education methodology outside of its firewalls.

"Based on our findings, educational games may be effective tools to engage health professionals, boost learning, optimize practice patterns, and improve patient outcomes," said Turchin in the press release. "We hope that future studies continue to focus on figuring out how to most effectively integrate games into the education of health professionals for the benefit of their patients."

The study has been published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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