Aims This project sought to evaluate the usefulness of a ‘serious game’ (computer-based simulation) in teaching the skills that individuals and teams need to provide Integrated Care. Such games are increasingly being developed to teach aspects of clinical decision-making but their potential for improving teamwork for Integrated Care has not been evaluated. We aimed to explore: how well a serious game highlighted challenges to Integrated Care; participants’ opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of serious games; the impact of the game being set in a non-healthcare environment on learning outcomes.
Methods Participants took part in the serious game ‘Mission to Mars’ (a computer-based simulation of a rocket launch to Mars) as part of a course about Integrated Care for doctors, counsellors, scientists and administrators in Clinical Genetics. The game simulates some challenges to providing integrated healthcare (communication barriers, competing priorities and limited information sharing) without being set in a clinical environment. All ten participants gave informed consent to take part in a focus group afterwards which was audio recorded and thematically analysed. Themes identified were used to inform semi-structured follow-up interviews with five participants exploring their reflections on the game after returning to work.
Results Themes highlighted by the game about leadership and teamwork were: difficulties in determining overall leadership when multiple teams work together; lack of understanding about other teams’ competing priorities; the need to communicate each team’s pressures and objectives even when working towards a common goal. Themes identified about the use of a non-healthcare environment were: allowing participants to think beyond their usual roles and behaviours; enabling those from a clinical and non-clinical background to contribute equally; allowing some subversion of existing hierarchies.
Conclusions Serious games can provide a fun and novel method of learning: participants were extremely positive and saw clear parallels between this serious game and their own work, despite the use of a non-healthcare environment. They felt this environment allowed them to think more creatively, both as individuals and as teams, but further work is needed to evaluate whether this translates into any behavioural change within the work environment.
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