About the Game
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death within the United States and the fourth leading cause of death in adolescents, followed by accidents, suicide, and homicide. Additionally, members of racial/ethnic minorities, people living in rural areas with limited access to health care, and/or of lower socioeconomic status, report having higher rates of cancer with worse outcomes. Studies have shown unhealthy lifestyle factors significantly contribute to cancer diagnosis among adolescents. Nearly half of all cancer diagnoses among adolescents are subject to five main lifestyle factors: tobacco use, alcohol consumption, eating habits, lack of exercise, and unprotected sunlight exposure. Prior research indicates there is a significant knowledge gap among youth about their perceived susceptibility and cancer risks. Given this gap, it is essential to include youth voices and perspectives in the development of a serious game to heighten relevance for young people. Since adolescents are highly engaged users of digital technology, and educational games can foster positive health behaviors, we have the potential to affect change with a well-designed serious game for adolescents. To our knowledge, there have been limited cancer prevention education programs designed and tailored for youth in the U.S schools. Thus, it is critical to educate vulnerable adolescents about cancer prevention because they are at a pivotal time of susceptibility and active learning of healthy behaviors to decrease their cancer risks.
“Serious games” are digital tools that promote positive health behaviors by offering innovative learning methods for delivering health information. While serious games have been shown to be successful in cancer medication adherence and self-advocacy during cancer treatment, a theory-driven serious game to educate youth about cancer and how to reduce cancer risk has not been developed and evaluated to date. Serious games can encourage active engagement and foster positive health behaviors, thus, we have the potential to affect change with a well-designed serious game targeted for adolescents. Because of their frequent use and repetitive nature, serious games are an ideal educational tool for positive health impact. They have been shown to enhance learning and reinforce content by providing immediate feedback to the player. While serious games have been successful in cancer medication adherence and self-advocacy during cancer treatment, a serious game that teaches adolescents about cancer basics and risk has not been found in the literature to date.
Our long-term goal is to determine whether a game-based intervention can improve adolescents’ cancer knowledge and reduce risky behaviors. This research builds upon Dr. Abraham’s prior ICTR-funded work focused on a serious game-based intervention to promote safe prescription opioid use.
OutSMA℞T Cancer Game
OutSMA℞T Cancer focuses on cancer prevention among adolescents using an iterative engagement process. The initial conceptualization of the game was informed by Dr. Abraham’s Serious Game Behavior Change Framework and the Cancer Clear & Simple curriculum created by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cancer Health Disparities Initiatives. In addition, preliminary data from a mixed-methods, participatory pilot study, “Cancer Awareness Among Teens,” funded by the American Cancer Society and the UW Carbone Cancer Center provided the foundation of OutSMA℞T Cancer. This serious game aims to provide game-based cancer education targeted towards adolescents. Adolescents are meant to learn to make healthy lifestyle choices while receiving cancer education along the way. Through acquiring this information, the adolescent will be able to make an educated and safe choice if these situations ever arose in real life.
American Cancer Society: Cancer has the ability to affect everyone, despite your age, gender or race, but it does affect everyone equally. This page is offers facts, research, information, and on-on-one support for these who are facing cancer or know someone with cancer.
CancerCare: CancerCare is a national, nonprofit organization that provides free, professional support services for anyone affected by cancer. They offer counseling, case management, support groups, education workshops, financial and co-pay assistance, community programs and up to date publications surrounding cancer.
Cancer Clear & Simple: Cancer, Clear & Simple (CC&S) comprises of a curriculum, Facilitator Guide, and educational handouts. All CC&S materials are designed to build knowledge and improve health-related outcomes. CC&S has been adapted for use with other populations and is currently available for Rural, African American, and Latino populations.
Medline Plus: United States National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health site with comprehensive health education, drug information, and medical news.
Resources for Patients: The National Cancer Institute has put together a resources page for persons with cancer. This page contains a wide range of information including cancer basics, your diagnosis, treatment, and coping materials.
Resources for Caregivers: The National Cancer Institute has put together a resources page for persons caring for someone with cancer. This page contains a wide range of information including cancer basics, treatment, coping and support materials.
Stupid Cancer: Stupid Cancer is the leading national advocacy organization serving the adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer community. They help empower young adults affected by cancer by building a community where everyone is supported, understood and accepted.
Cancer Screening: Screening tests can increase the chance of detecting certain cancers early, when they may be easier to treat. Learn more about early detection here.
- Abraham, O, Rosenberger, C, LeMay, S, Bittner, S. Adolescents’ perceptions about cancer and preferences for cancer education. Cancer Control. 2021;28:1-12. https://doi.org/10.1177/10732748211036057
- Abraham, O, Szela, L, Feng, E, Egbujor, M, Gay, S. Exploring youth perceptions about cancer prevention and preferences for education: a qualitative study. J Cancer Educ. 2021. Available online August 13, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-021-02077-0
- Abraham, O, Szela L, Khan M, Geddam A. Exploring Middle School Students' Perspectives on Utilizing Serious Games for Cancer Prevention Education: A Focus Group Study. JMIR Serious Games. 2021 Oct 12. doi: 10.2196/31172. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34643533.
If you have questions about this research, please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Olufunmilola Abraham by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CRoME Lab’s mission is to develop, implement, and disseminate novel methods for improving medication safety and health behaviors for vulnerable and underserved populations, while training the next generation of researchers. Projects within the CRoME research core share the common goal of applying community-engaged, collaborative, and transdisciplinary approaches to improving medication use and health outcomes for families through education, prevention, and intervention programs. For more information, please visit our website: https://pharmacy.wisc.edu/crometeam/
This project was supported in part by American Cancer Society (ACS) grant IRG-15-213-51 and the UWCCC (University of Wisconsin-Madison Carbone Cancer Center).
This study was supported by KL2 grant KL2 TR002374-03 and grant UL1TR002373 to UW ICTR by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, through the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.