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Health Communication

Strategies for Developing Global Health Programs

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Edited By Do Kyun Kim, Arvind Singhal and Gary L. Kreps

Promotion of healthy behaviors and prevention of disease are inextricably linked to cultural understandings of health and well-being. Health communication scholarship and practice can substantially and strategically contribute to people living safer, healthier, and happier lives. This book represents a concrete step in that direction by establishing a strategic framework for guiding global and local health practices.
Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, the volume includes state-of-the-art theories that can be applied to health communication interventions and practical guidelines about how to design, implement, and evaluate effective health communication interventions.
Few books have synthesized such a broad range of theories and strategies of health communication that are applicable globally, and also provided clear advice about how to apply such strategies. This volume combines academic research and field experience, guided by past and future research agendas and on-the-ground implementation opportunities.
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Chapter 4 Digital Games: The SECRET of Alternative Health Realities (Hua Wang, University at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkArvind Singhal, University of Texas at El Paso)

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Hua Wang, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Arvind Singhal, The University of Texas at El Paso

Digital games are video games, computer games, online games, mobile games, simulations, and virtual worlds played on arcade units, console systems, handheld devices, personal computers, or the Web. Can they help manage pain, reduce infections, cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, and boost efficacy to practice healthy behaviors? We seek to answer such questions in this chapter.

In 40 years, digital games have become one of the largest and most profitable global media industries and play an important role in the everyday life of millions of people all over the world, cutting across age, gender, and socio-economic status. Although games are often seen as frivolous or harmful, more people have started to value their potential for making positive changes. Game designers have been collaborating with content experts to foster learning and promote health since the mid-1990s (Lieberman, 2009). As design strategies and evidence of effectiveness are fast accumulating in the “Games for Health” literature in recent years, health game projects are attracting more public attention, substantial funding resources, and enthusiastic research efforts (Ferguson, 2012). Annual conferences have been held in North America since 2004 and in Europe since 2011. A peer-reviewed journal Games for Health: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications was launched in 2012.

In this chapter, we first briefly point out the distinct media attributes of digital games relevant to health communication. We then...

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