Examining the physical, social and educational benefits of CLEAN exergame for persons with dementia to promote hand hygiene and influenza vaccine uptake: A feasibility study

Sun, Winnie L. | $39,498

Ontario Ontario Tech University (University of Ontario Institute of Technology) 2021 SSHRC

Persons with dementia (PWD) face a serious threat to influenza, and vaccine hesitancy could further potentiate this risk. They are also at high risk for contracting other infections, such as COVID‑19 as a result of their difficulties in enacting proper infection control measures due to cognitive impairment. There is an urgent need to develop effective, evidence-based education for PWD and their caregivers to mitigate their risks of contracting influenza and COVID‑19 infection, including important preventative actions such as addressing vaccine hesitancy and reinforcing proper handwashing techniques. Traditional forms of education can create barriers to knowledge uptake by PWD due to poor content adoption and retention, as well as lack of engagement and feedback. Exergame can be beneficial to PWD because it can provide a safe platform for them to develop their gross and fine motor skills, tracking bodily movements and reactions while learning to adopt new behaviors.

The purpose of this project is to develop an educational exergame for PWD to practice effective handwashing through the use of motion capture technologies, while delivering educational content related to infection control, and evidence-based resources to educate them about the importance of vaccination. Our study has two overarching objectives: (1) To examine the meaning and value of utilizing educational and social exergaming for PWD and their caregivers in the community and institutional settings; and (2) To explore the potential physical, social, and educational benefits of exergaming, including its impact on hand hygiene practices and influenza vaccine uptake. Using mixed methods approaches, this feasibility study will be implemented with the goal of developing and pilot-testing the CLEAN exergame for persons with dementia in the community, and institutional settings. CLEAN is a contactless exergame (game for eliciting physical/motor activity) to educate PWD regarding the importance of infection control/hand hygiene through the use of motion capture technologies.

This project will evaluate the physical, social and educational benefits of CLEAN exergame in collaboration between researchers in Canada and Portugal. As guided by the concept of Educational and Social Exergaming (EASE), we propose that CLEAN exergame is a form of social exergaming for persons with dementia that can foster physical activity, promote social connectedness, and create valuable opportunities for learning and intergenerational communication. This feasibility study will provide insight into the potential benefits of exergame through the following dimensions: (1) Physical dimension: Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale; (2) Social dimension: Qualitative interviews/digital stories to solicit feedback related to their experiences about user engagement and social connectedness; (3) Educational dimensions: Data analytics and behavioral change measures collected by the exergame, such as knowledge about hand hygiene and influenza vaccine uptake.

The results of this work will be of interest to diverse groups of disciplines including Gerontology and Geriatrics; Information Technology; Health and Social Science. New knowledge generated can be used to inform future program development for educating hand hygiene and addressing vaccine hesitancy. Advancement of knowledge about the role of educational and social exergaming will be of interest to other target populations such as children and family caregivers who will benefit from exergaming to foster physical and mental well-being, and to promote social connectedness and intergenerational communication.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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