Previous research has shown that doping through the use of Performance and Appearance Enhancement Drugs (PAED) in amateur, fitness and grassroots sports represents an emerging public health challenge, with exercisers and amateur athletes as young as 12-years old having used or consider using substances like androgenic anabolic steroids to improve their athletic performance and/or bodily appearance. A wide range of risk factors has been consistently associated with intentions to use and actual usage of PAED in young people who exercise or engage in amateur sports, including the frequent use of nutritional supplements, body image-related and performance-related beliefs, and individual differences in self-efficacy, self-regulation and sport motivation.
The development of evidence-based instructional methods and educational interventions to prevent PAED use in young people is still in its infancy. Even more so, conventional methods to educate young people about risk-taking behaviours and motivate behaviour change may not be as effective as more recent, web-based approaches in health promotion, education, and behaviour change. Serious games (SGs) are computerized and web-based games designed to educate (than entertain) the user. Serious games represent an effective means to deliver health education and promotion, and have been found to be more effective than conventional instruction method in terms of influencing learning and retention of the new material. Serious games have been increasingly embedded in diverse areas of health behaviour change ranging from diabetes monitoring, to helping people manage chronic health conditions and promoting physical activity and exercise. However, despite their applicability and impact on health behaviour change, serious games have not been applied to doping prevention thus far.
Aim and Objectives of the Project
The aim of “The Game” Project is to develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of an evidence-based and theory-driven serious game for doping prevention in young people engaged in amateur and grassroots sports. The objectives of the project are:
- Utilize cutting-edge behavioural science research about the risk and protective factors against doping use in amateur and grassroots sports to inform the development of an SG against doping.
- Use and “open innovation” framework to co-design an SG for doping prevention, through the active collaboration of SG designers and young people engaged in amateur and grassroots sports.
- Apply and evaluate the effectiveness of the doping prevention SG in changing young people’s learning, motivation, beliefs and behaviour towards the use of PAED, and in promoting a more positive mentality about drug-free and health-enhancing physical activity and sports.
- Develop a research agenda and policy recommendations for the wider application of SG technologies for the prevention of doping and the promotion of health-enhancing physical activity and sports in young people.
The innovative features of “The Game” Project include: a) the application of serious game technology in the context of doping prevention in amateur and grassroots sports; b) the open innovation framework that allows for the co-design/co-creation of the serious game application; c) the utilization of cutting edge research from the behavioural sciences about doping prevention; d) the use of an evidence-based and “positive” approach in promoting a drug-free and health-enhancing physical activity and sport culture (i.e., users of the SG will learn how to avoid doping use, but also how to embrace a more positive view towards drug-free and health-promoting physical activity and sport engagement).
If you are interested in the project, please contact the ENAS Development Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org