Saturday, August 30, 2014

Serious Games For Clinical Challenges

Serious Games improving assessment and intervention skills of medical students


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Clinical Tools, Inc. is currently creating a new continuing clinical training based on Serious Games called Clinical Challenge | Alcohol, to be released in 2015.

The project seeks to improve outcomes of patients with at risk alcohol use or an alcohol use disorder by improving the alcohol assessment and intervention skills of medical students.

The personal, financial and other costs to society of at-risk drinking and alcohol use disorders are well known. 2012 estimates of past-month substance use include:

·         17 million heavy drinkers
·         59.7 million binge drinkers

Approximately 88,000 alcohol-related deaths occurred annually from 2006 to 2010, making excessive alcohol use the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death. Estimates of the economic impact of alcohol exceed $224 billion, annually, including loss in workplace productivity, health care expenses, accidents, crime, and other destructive losses.

The Clinical Challenge: Alcohol project builds upon developers’ existing platform Clinical Encounters 3D-Patient Training Environment, to create a challenging Serious Game to be mastered.

Medical students experience the real-world challenges of patient care including time-pressure, the need to make assessment and intervention decisions, and exposure to the effect of those decisions on their patients. By engaging and challenging medical students to improve their alcohol assessment and intervention skills, future physicians may be better prepared to assist patients with at unhealthy alcohol use and improve the health outcomes of those patients.


The game replicates the real-world challenges of patient care, but efficiently provides a wide variety of clinical experiences. Students conduct interviews and perform standardized assessments with virtual (e.g., computer generated) patients. They receive differing simulated patient responses (e.g., acceptance, confusion, refusal, suspicious behavior) and preceptor feedback in response to the choices and decisions they make.

To categorize alcohol use and, as indicated, establish an alcohol use diagnosis, they proceed to select physical exam components and select and interpret diagnostic screens and tests. As appropriate for health professional students in the early stage of their clinical training, students develop an evidence-based treatment plan that minimizes risk of at use drinking and provides appropriate follow-up. 


The game will be further used as an application on a computer tablet but it is now being presented as a rough online prototype.

Clinical Challenge: Alcohol website invites players to try out some selected interactive prototype features for a clinical skill training game on alcohol use problems. Players will be asked for feedback as they interact with this prototype and in a short survey at the end.


The Serious Game is part of a larger initiative SBIRT Core Training Program, aimed at improving clinical skills in screening, brief interventions, and referral to treatment for substance use problems.

SBIRTTraining.com is being developed by Clinical Tools, Inc. (CTI) with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse