Smartphone and video game use and perceived effects in a community mental health service

Abstract

Background

Gaming is a growing area and there are conflicting reports on its harms and benefits. There is also increasing interest in the use of gaming clinically.

Aims

This research aims to enhance our understanding of video and smartphone game use, and perceptions, among outpatients attending an Irish general adult mental health service.

Methods

An anonymised, opportunistic survey of outpatients attending an Irish general adult mental health service was completed. Respondents were self-selecting and self-administering of the survey.

Results

The response rate was 13% (n = 93). Younger patients were significantly more likely to own a smartphone (p = 0.00). Those who played videogames were significantly younger than those who did not (p = 0.00). Younger age groups were significantly more likely to have heard of (p = 0.00), and used (p = 0.01), Pokémon GO. Over 19% (n = 18) of respondents played video games. Nearly 24% (n = 16) of those with a smartphone played games on it daily. No respondents reported specifically using games for health reasons. The two individuals who found Pokémon GO usage increased their exercise levels, also reported mental health benefits from it. Individuals’ gaming use and age did not significantly impact on whether they were positive or negative in their opinions towards video and smartphone games.

Conclusions

There is an opportunity to deliver interventions to Irish mental health service outpatients through smartphone and video games. Our small study suggests this to be underutilised currently. As more frequent users, perhaps younger individuals would most benefit from gamification of interventions and the use of existing games that have possible physical and mental health benefits. This requires further research.

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Correspondence to Roberta Rowntree.

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The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committee on human experimentation with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008. The authors assert that ethical approval for publication of this research has been provided by their local Ethics Committee.

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Rowntree, R., Feeney, L. Smartphone and video game use and perceived effects in a community mental health service. Ir J Med Sci 188, 1337–1341 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-019-02016-5

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Keywords

  • Mental health
  • Outpatient
  • Pokémon GO
  • Psychiatry
  • Smartphone
  • Video game