Can a Facebook game help people with diabetes improve everyday behaviors?
We at the Diabetes Hands Foundation developed HealthSeeker, a new healthy Facebook game (we think this is not an oxymoron!) in collaboration with Joslin Diabetes Center, with the goal of helping players make specific lifestyle changes that focus on healthy eating. While the benefits of the game are available to anyone, HealthSeeker specifically helps people with diabetes make more informed lifestyle decisions in an innovative way that complements their daily use of social media.
HealthSeeker combines a supportive social networking environment with important information on managing diabetes. The game utilizes the player's own Facebook® friends as sources of inspiration and support on the road to better health.
There are MISSIONS and ACTION STEPS to help players achieve LIFESTYLE GOALS and create an opportunity to advance in the game. These LIFESTYLE GOALS include eating more healthfully, achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, improving one's diabetes control and lowering cardiovascular risk factors. As ACTION STEPS are completed and players return to report their progress, they receive experience points and other awards for their achievements.
HealthSeeker is a unique collaboration between diabetes experts and patient advocates who are on the front lines of diabetes care. It was developed by the Diabetes Hands Foundation in collaboration with Joslin Diabetes Center, with financial support provided by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
We wanted to harness the Facebook® phenomenon to help people with diabetes make necessary changes in their daily lives. Many people with diabetes struggle with the lifestyle changes that are needed to help manage their condition, such as adding more fiber, fruit and vegetables to their diets, or increasing their daily activity. HealthSeeker™ can help people with diabetes stay motivated by suggesting simple, everyday steps to help them achieve their lifestyle goals and then rewarding them for their success.
One of the people involved in the Joslin team was Dr. Richard Jackson (an endocrinologist and Director of Medical Affairs, Healthcare Services, Joslin Diabetes Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School). He had this to say about the game and his hopes for it:
"As a clinician who has been treating people with diabetes for over 30 years, I can tell you that food is often the most frustrating area of concern for people with the condition. We hope this novel and engaging game will break down some of the barriers that are preventing people with diabetes from building a successful lifestyle approach to their condition."
Here is a video to give you a feel about the game:
HealthSeeker™ can be accessed at www.healthseekergame.org.
It's been an incredible experience as we now embark in a new phase of this fascinating project. Let me know if you have any questions about the game or social gaming and health in general.