Dozen Research Teams Get Games For Health Grants

More than $2 million in grants is being handed out to teams researching how video games can improve players' health.

While the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation doesn't plan to announce the dozen research teams who will be awarded the grant money until Thursday, they did say that the funded studies will explore topics ranging from how motion-based games may help stroke patients progress faster in physical therapy to how people in substance abuse treatment can practice skills and behaviors in the virtual world to prevent real-world relapses.

I'd like to think that at least one is looking at the WiiFit and how it does at raising awareness of BMI, but maybe it's too soon for it to have soaked into academia.

It's heartening to see that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted to improving the health of Americans, has decided it's worth investing so much money to "explore how games can increase physical activity and enhance prevention, self-management of health conditions".

Hit the jump for the full release.

VIDEO/ONLINE GAMES FOR HEALTH: 12 RESEARCH TEAMS FROM ACROSS U.S. RECEIVE MAJOR GRANTS

Awards go to researchers in CA, FL, IN, ME, NC, NY, SC, VT and WA; Studies explore how games can increase physical activity and enhance prevention, self-management of health conditions

PRINCETON, NJ. More than $2 million in grants will be awarded to 12 research teams to help strengthen the evidence base that supports the development and use of digital interactive games to improve players' health behaviors and outcomes. The grantees will be announced during a live, phone-based news event (with full Q&A) at 1:30 p.m. EDT Thursday (May 29, 2008).

This is the first round of grants to be awarded from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its Health Games Research national program, based at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Funded studies explore topics ranging from how motion-based games may help stroke patients progress faster in physical therapy to how people in substance abuse treatment can practice skills and behaviors in the virtual world to prevent real-world relapses.

News event speakers will be:

* Debra Lieberman, Ph.D., communication researcher, Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research, University of California at Santa Barbara; and

* Chinwe Onyekere, program officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio.

TO PARTICIPATE: Join this live, phone-based news conference (with full, two-way Q&A) at 1:30 p.m. EDT on May 29, 2008 by dialing 1 (800) 860-2442. Ask for the "health games grants" news event.

CAN'T PARTICIPATE?: A streaming audio replay of this news event will be available as of 6 p.m. EDT on May 29 at http://healthgamesresearch.org/.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. The Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio supports innovative ideas and projects that may trigger important breakthroughs in health and health care. Projects in the Pioneer Portfolio are future-oriented and look beyond conventional thinking to explore solutions at the cutting edge of health and health care. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org/pioneer.

About the University of California, Santa Barbara

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is one of 10 universities in the University of California system, and is one of only 62 research-intensive institutions elected to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. The distinguished 980-member faculty includes five Nobel Prize winners and scores of elected members or fellows of elite national academies and associations. The campus is also home to 12 national centers and institutes, eight of them sponsored by the National Science Foundation. U.S. News and World Report's guide, "America's Best Colleges," ranks UCSB number 13 among all public universities in the nation. For more information, visit www.ucsb.edu.

UCSB's Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research (ISBER) brings together researchers from many academic disciplines in order to foster collaboration and span the boundaries between the social and behavioral sciences, the humanities, and the physical and biological sciences. For more information, visit www.isber.ucsb.edu.

The Health Games Research national program office at UCSB conducts and supports research to enhance the quality and impact of interactive games used to improve health. For more information, visit www.healthgamesresearch.org or contact the program at healthgamesresearch@isber.ucsb.edu.