Rural Adolescents' Recommendations on the Design and Content of Digital HIV Prevention Games

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Comfort C. Enah, PhD, RN
Linda D. Moneyham, PhD, RN, FAAN
Malysa Chandler, MEd
School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

Learning Objective 1: Understand the need for contextually relevant HIV prevention interventions for rural adolescents

Learning Objective 2: State three findings of this study

Purpose: There is increasing recognition of the need to target and tailor messages to specific audiences in order increase the effectiveness of HIV prevention programs. Engaging community members in needs assessment processes is critical to addressing context-specific influences on risk. Digital gaming and technology-based approaches are emerging as powerful age appropriate tools for use in interventions with young adolescents. Digital games have shown promise in health risk prevention, behavioral interventions, and disease self-management. Research on the potential impact of electronic games in HIV prevention is still in its infancy. Determining how to design games that are relevant and acceptable to target population is an important area of investigation. The purpose of this study was to gather formative data for the design of an HIV prevention game for adolescents.

Methods: Working with a community based HIV service organization; eight focus group sessions were conducted with four groups of adolescents. Groups were segmented by age and gender.  A total of 38 rural participants provided the formative data on the design and content of an adventure HIV prevention games.  

Results: Adolescents supported the use of digital games in HIV prevention and had specific recommendations for the design of such games. Participants wanted the games to reflect their lives and context. Themes emerging from the qualitative data include; players’ control, virtual reward systems, immersive action reflecting the real world, and the need for tailoring.

Conclusion: Study participants provided very specific recommendations for the content and design of an HIV prevention digital game. Findings will be used by community health nurses in the design of a contextually relevant digital game prototype that is responsive to the target population’s recommendations to “make it like the real world.”