Patient education needs to fine tune its focus.
Recent evidence reported in the journal Pediatrics shows that the biggest driver for getting kids to move more was simply how much vigorous activity their friends got during an after-school program. Kids imitate their friends in so many ways, so maybe this is no big surprise. Still, the fact that the kids didn’t choose their friends based upon level of activity, but rather tended to match the activity level of their friends points to some useful ways we might help fight obesity in children using the power of social ties.
The article, reviewed and summarized on MedPage Today, lends further credibility to the idea that the power of social media, and especially games tied to social networks, can become powerful combatants in our fight against childhood obesity.
This study, conducted by Sabina B. Gesell, PhD, and colleagues from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, had a culturally diverse group of kids. And, they found similar impacts regardless of ethnic background. Of course there were variables for which the study didn’t fully account…”some potentially important factors were not considered in the study, including children’s preferences and intentions regarding activity, whether the parents were overweight, and diet quality.” Still, such evidence suggests that greater awareness of the power of community, tied with patient education to direct improved health choices, could increase the effectiveness of health and weight management programs.
If patient education developers take the right cues, they’ll begin designing games and programs to specifically take advantage of the power of social ties to motivate good behaviors and healthy choices. Just another pamphlet or educational handout isn’t going to cut it, not matter how well written or how low the literacy level required may be. Kids – and adults, too – want engaging tools that entertain while they learn. Thus, using the power of gamification as well as the motivation inherent in social ties can empower greater engagement and drive healthier outcomes.
Posted – May 22, 2012