Using games in diabetes education, by Dr. Michele Talley

Talley_Michele_RTAssistant Dean for Graduate Clinical Education for MSN and NP Pathways Michele Talley, PhD, CRNP, ACNP-BC, uses gaming technology to educate patients with diabetes and their families on care and self-management. In recognition of World Diabetes Day on November 14, Dr. Talley shares how she first came up with the idea of using a game as an educational tool.

Here I am sitting on an airplane, nervous, because I don’t love to fly, and I’m wondering what I can do. Taking a nap on an airplane is not an option — remember, I am not fond of flying — and I have loaded my book in the overhead compartment which cannot be accessed. Maybe I could watch a movie? Nope, my earbuds are also in my bag in the overhead compartment. I look around for a moment and then decide to play a game. After all, I love solitaire. Well, this solitaire is not what I am accustomed to playing… let’s try another game. One is a trivia game and hey, I can play it against my friend and co-worker sitting five rows back. Well, maybe I can tell her when we land that we should play on the way back. I don’t want to yell at her and say “Let’s play a game,” so I decide to play alone.

The game is fun! I find myself looking around to see if anyone can see how many I am missing, and I notice that many people are playing games. They are young, old, men, women, and of all races. These games don’t target anyone specifically, and somehow, they appeal to everyone. As I continue on my ride, I start a convers

ation in my head. This game is revealing that I really don’t know as much as I thought I did about science, art, movies, etc. But I’m still able to learn because when I get an answer wrong, it tells me the right answer and why it is correct.

I sure hope that no one else knows that this educated woman is seat 15A is missing all of the art questions. Well, educated, but also at a loss for my next research study.

Previously, I studied using a coach to help teach diabetes self-management. Coaching is great, but we ran into issues with the coaches connecting with the patients. The question turned to, “What can I do to engage patients in learning?” … Wait one second. The answer is right in front of me! How can I engage men and women, patients who are old and young and of all races in learning how to take care of their diabetes? WITH A GAME, OF COURSE!

The first concern — I am not creative and can’t program a game. Thankfully there’s already a solution. Assistant Dean for Clinical Education and Associ

ate Professor of Medicine James Willig, MD, MSPH, has a game I can adapt called Kaizen. I will get in touch with him when I get back from this conference and see if he is interested. The next time I am at clinic I will ask a few patients what they think.

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Dr. Michele Talley utilizes Kaizen as a fun and informative education tool.

Back in the present day and 9 months since first utilizing Kaizen to educate patients, that epiphany on the plane has led to an amazing way to engage patients with diabetes and their families in learning more about self-care management. You see, learning about diabetes and how to care for yourself or others doesn’t have to be boring. Through Kaizen, you can play to learn for yourself and even play against or with your family, friends and social supporters and ultimately everyone learns.

In fact, patients who have played Kaizen have been very supportive of this educational platform. The patients report wanting to play the diabetes game at the clinic and at home. Some patients want to play the game by themselves while others want to play in teams or with family or friends. Likewise, patients report that playing a game is a much more interesting way to learn new things than just listening to someone teach them.

Since the prevalence and incidence of diabetes is growing to epidemic proportions, finding ways to educate others on the disease and/or its prevention and progression is important to all who have diabetes, those at risk of getting it, and for those who take care of these patients. The Kaizen educational gaming platform is just one example of UAB being on the leading edge of providing innovative, high-quality care.

The impact that innovative educational strategies such as Kaizen have on patients is not only changing the lives of patients but transforming the education of our students. Before its use on patients, Kaizen was played by students across 22 disciplines at UAB, including in the School of Nursing’s undergraduate and nurse practitioner students. Faculty used Kaizen as an innovative educational platform. Students played for bragging rights. Regardless of the motivation of the learner, be it intrinsically or extrinsically motivating, all gamers and educators reap the benefit.

 

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