Intended for healthcare professionals


Video games and health

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 14 July 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:122
  1. Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies (
  1. International Gaming Research Unit, Psychology Division, Department of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham NG1 4BU

    Video gaming is safe for most players and can be useful in health care

    Although playing video games is one of the most popular leisure activities in the world, research into its effects on players, both positive and negative, is often trivialised. Some of this research deserves to be taken seriously, not least because video game playing has implications for health.1

    One innovative application of video games in health care is their use in pain management. The degree of attention needed to play such a game can distract the player from the sensation of pain, a strategy that has been reported and evaluated among paediatric patients. One case study reported the use of a handheld video game to stop an 8 year old boy picking at his face. The child had neurodermatitis and scarring due to continual picking at his upper lip. Previous treatments had failed so the boy was given a hand held video game to keep his hands occupied. After two …

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