University of Oulu

Kukkohovi, S., Siira, H., Arolaakso, S. et al. The effectiveness of digital gaming on the functioning and activity of older people living in long-term care facilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Aging Clin Exp Res 35, 1595–1608 (2023).

The effectiveness of digital gaming on the functioning and activity of older people living in long-term care facilities : a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Author: Kukkohovi, Saara1; Siira, Heidi1; Arolaakso, Sari2;
Organizations: 1GeroNursing Centre, Research Unit of Health Science and Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Lapland University of Applied Sciences, Kemi, Finland
3Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-23


Background: The population is aging globally. Older people living in long-term care facilities have many functional impairments, such as mobility problems and depression. Digital games and so-called exergames can offer a motivating and entertaining way to maintain older people’s physical activity and thus their ability to function. However, previous studies have reported conflicting results about the effects of digital gaming and have focused on community-dwelling older people.

Objektive: To identify, critically appraise, and synthesize evidence about the effectiveness of digital games on older people’s physical, psychological, and social functioning and physical and social activity in long-term care facilities.

Methods: Five databases were systematically searched, and relevant studies were screened. Fifteen randomized-controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies (total N = 674) were included in meta-analysis.

Results: All digital games used in interventions were exergames. Meta-analysis showed that exergame interventions have a statistically significant large effect on physical functioning [number of studies (N) = 6, standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.97, p = 0.001] measured by Timed Up and Go or Short Physical Performance Battery and self-assessed physical activity (N = 3, SMD = 1.20, p < 0.001) and medium effect on social functioning (N = 5, SMD = 0.74, p = 0.016) compared to alternative intervention or no intervention. Social activity was not measured in any study.

Conclusions: The results are encouraging that exergames effectively increase the functioning and activity of older adults living in long-term facilities. Successful implementation of such activities requires the competence of nursing staff and rehabilitation professionals in digitalization.

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Series: Aging clinical and experimental research
ISSN: 1594-0667
ISSN-E: 1720-8319
ISSN-L: 1594-0667
Volume: 35
Issue: 8
Pages: 1595 - 1608
DOI: 10.1007/s40520-023-02459-y
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 217 Medical engineering
316 Nursing
Funding: Open Access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. This study was partly financially supported by Competitive State Research Financing.
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