Does a serious game increase intrinsic motivation in children receiving urotherapy?

Urotherapy is considered the treatment of choice for children suffering daytime urinary incontinence (DUI). Urotherapy intends to improve bladder dysfunction for children with DUI. For children with refractory DUI, an intensive inpatient bladder training program exists, which focuses on relearning, concentration on, and awareness of the bladder. Children's motivation and adherence are key determinants of a successful training outcome. It is hypothesized that motivation endurance throughout the treatment process may be enhanced by a serious game training tool, which could make the training more appealing and rewarding.

The study explores intrinsic motivation in children receiving bladder training for DUI and whether using a serious game improves their intrinsic motivation.

In this pragmatic study, 50 children were allowed to choose among receiving bladder training with (intervention group) or without the application of a serious game (control group). At 4, 8, and 12 weeks of training, children and parents were asked to complete the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI). Children also completed the Pediatric Urinary Incontinence Quality of Life Tool (PinQ) before the start of the training and 6 months thereafter. At 6-month follow-up, patients were ask to participate in two focus groups, wherein the children discussed how they used the serious game and which improvements they would prefer.

Children who received standard bladder training with the addition of a serious game did not differ in terms of intrinsic motivation from children who underwent standard bladder training only. Training results were equal in both the groups, with 80% good or improved. Incontinence-related quality of life (QoL) improved accordingly.

In contrast to the study expectations, this game did not increase intrinsic motivation. Findings on training and QoL results are consistent with those of previous studies in both interventions. Although a randomized design could have yielded more valid results than this preference-based approach, the latter is more congruent with clinical practice. In contrast to existing bladder diary apps, this game offers a combination of child-friendly instructions, explanation of bladder (dys)function, and keeping a bladder diary. Mobile devices are playing an increasingly important role in health care; therefore, an urotherapy app can be a complementary therapeutic tool.

Most children find it attractive to combine bladder training with a serious game. However, no added value was found regarding intrinsic motivation and training results. All children with persistent DUI in this cohort were highly motivated to complete an intensive bladder training program.

Journal of pediatric urology. 2018 Sep 19 [Epub ahead of print]

A J Nieuwhof-Leppink, T P V M de Jong, E M van de Putte, R Schappin

Department of Medical Psychology and Social Work, Urology, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, PO Box 85090, 3508 AB Utrecht, the Netherlands. Electronic address: ., Pediatric Urology, University Children's Hospitals UMC Utrecht and Amsterdam UMC, the Netherlands., Department of Pediatrics, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands., Department of Medical Psychology and Social Work, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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