238677 Developing an online game to prevent poisonings

Monday, October 31, 2011

Iana M. Simeonov , Schools of Pharmacy & Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Kristina M. Hamm, MPH , California Poison Control System, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Parents are largely unaware that poison exposure is the 2nd leading cause of injury and death to children 0-5 years. Poverty increases the risk of unintentional poison exposure. Most exposures occur in the home with common household items.

In 2010, online games overtook personal email to become the second most heavily used activity behind social networks. Data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers shows OTC and prescription medications accounting for the majority of exposures in children. In focus groups, parents report concern around colorful “pills” that can be mistaken for a treat.

To deliver the message that common substances found at home can look alike in a compelling way that was both educational and fun, medications were paired with candy in Pills vs. Candy, an online game.

The English and Spanish game at www.pillsvscandy.com asks players to identify seemingly identical pairs of medicine and candy by tapping on a photo. Answers are shown with the next pairing and player scores are tabulated.

In its first 2 months, the game had 12,000 unique players. Most played to the end and scored 65% correct. Currently there are an average of 10-20 page views daily with 4 minutes spent on the site. Only 28% of games are unfinished and nearly 35% play again or share the URL and their score on Facebook or Twitter.

As part of an overall social marketing strategy, the game proved successful with parents and teachers who reported playing, and learning, with their kids.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Explain the process used to create and develop an online game aimed at changing health behavior Demonstrate the ease, efficacy, and intrigue of the online game. Discuss key elements of incorporating an online game into an overall health education strategy.

Keywords: Health Communications, Health Education Strategies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: 10+ years in consumer research, social marketing and brand positioning in public health. Marketing and Communications Director for largest provider of poison control services in the U.S. Presenter on social media, mobile and mhealth at the following: 2010 NIH mHealth Summit 2010 CDC Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media (2008, 2009, 2010) 2010 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.