AIM: To describe and explore health game interventions that enhance the physical activity self-efficacy of children and to evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions.
BACKGROUND: Physical inactivity among children has increased globally. Self-efficacy is one of the key determinants of physical activity engagement in children. There is a need to explore new and innovative interventions to enhance physical activity self-efficacy that are also acceptable for today's children.
DESIGN: Quantitative systematic review.
DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE (Ovid), CINAHL, PsychInfo, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library between 1996-2016.
REVIEW METHODS: A review was conducted in accordance with the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines. A systematic search was done in June 2016 by two independent reviewers according to the eligibility criteria as follows: controlled trial, comparison of digital game intervention with no game intervention control condition, participants younger than 18 years of age and reported statistical analyses of a physical activity self-efficacy outcome measure.
RESULTS: Altogether, five studies met the eligibility criteria. Four game interventions, employing three active games and one educational game, had positive effects on children's physical activity self-efficacy. An intervention, employing a game-themed mobile application, showed no intervention effects. The variation between intervention characteristics was significant and the quality of the studies was found to be at a medium level.
CONCLUSION: Although health game interventions seemingly enhance the physical activity self-efficacy of children and have potential as a means of increasing physical activity, more rigorous research is needed to clarify how effective such interventions are in the longer run to contribute to the development of game-based interventions.