HealthDay News — Sustained and meaningful improvements in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) are seen with participation in a diabetes self-management education (DSME) game, according to a study published online August8 in Diabetes Care.

B. Price Kerfoot, MD, from the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, and colleagues randomized 456 patients on oral diabetes medications with HbA1c ≥58mmol/mol to a DSME game (with a civics booklet) and a civics game (with a DSME booklet). Two questions were sent twice weekly via e-mail or mobile app as part of the 6-month games. Modest financial rewards were provided for winning teams and individuals. 

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The researchers found that HbA1c reductions over 12 months were significantly greater for DSME game patients than civics game patients (−8 and −5 mmol/mol, respectively; P=0.048). Among patients with baseline HbA1c >75 mmol/mol, HbA1c reductions were greater (−16 and −9 mmol/mol for DSME and civics game patients, respectively; P=0.031).

“Among patients with poorly controlled diabetes, the DSME game reduced HbA1c by a magnitude comparable to starting a new diabetes medication,” the authors write. “Online games may be a scalable approach to improve outcomes among geographically dispersed patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases.”

One author disclosed owning Qstream Inc., which developed the automated game system.

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