A systematic review of computerised serious educational games about alcohol and other drugs for adolescents

Authors

  • Daniel M. Rodriguez,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    2. National Health and Medical Research Council, Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    • Correspondence to Mr Daniel M. Rodriguez, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Tel: +61 (0)2 8936 1134; Fax: +61 (0)2 9385 0222; E-mail: d.rodriguez@unsw.edu.au

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  • Maree Teesson,

    1. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    2. National Health and Medical Research Council, Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
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  • Nicola C. Newton

    1. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
    2. National Health and Medical Research Council, Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
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  • Daniel M. Rodriguez BSc-Psych (Hons), Research Assistant, Maree Teesson PhD, Professor, Nicola C. Newton PhD, Senior Research fellow.

Abstract

Issues

Serious educational games (SEG) have been shown to be effective in educating young people about a range of topics, including languages and maths. This paper identifies the use of computerised SEGs in education about alcohol and other drugs and reviews their impact on the prevention of alcohol and drug use.

Approach

The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE, ERIC, Scopus, psychINFO, pubMED and DRUG databases were searched in February 2013. Additional publications were obtained from the reference lists of the relevant papers. Studies were included if they described an evaluation of a computerised SEG that targeted alcohol and/or other drugs and had been trialled with adolescents.

Key Findings

Eight SEGs were identified targeting tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, methamphetamine, ecstasy, inhalants, cocaine and opioids. Six reported positive outcomes in terms of increased content knowledge and two reported increased negative attitudes towards the targeted drugs. Only one reported a decrease in the frequency of drug use.

Implications and Conclusion

This is the first review of the efficacy of computerised SEGs for alcohol and other drugs for adolescents. Results suggest that SEGs can increase content knowledge of alcohol and other drugs. Evidence concerning impacts on negative attitudes and alcohol and drug use is limited, with few studies examining these outcomes.

Ancillary