The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has announced a new national program called Health Games Research, established to support research to enhance the quality and effectiveness of interactive games that are used to improve health.
The Foundation says the program, established by an $8.25 million grant, builds on its ongoing work to understand the potential for games to improve health and health care, and to forge connections between the games and health fields.
Health Games Research will be located at the University of California, Santa Barbara and directed by Debra Lieberman, Ph.D., communication researcher in the university's Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research.
This grant represents a new investment to advance the health-related impact of games by RWJF's Pioneer Portfolio, which supports projects that may lead to breakthrough improvements in the future of health and health care.
In 2005, the Pioneer Portfolio made an initial grant to the Games for Health Project, whose work to connect game industry leaders with scholars and health experts aimed to generate interest in the potential for this field to positively influence health.
RWJF program officer Chinwe Onyekere said, "Computer and video games are one of today's fastest-growing media forms. While we have seen dramatic expansion within the health games field, we lack solid evidence to help identify when a game - used alone or in combination with other interventions - can improve people's health, and what specific difference it makes. Studies funded through Health Games Research will produce important, action-oriented results that will help this growing field make a meaningful difference in the health and health care of all Americans."