Using Video Games to Improve the Sexual Health of Young People Aged 15 to 25 Years: Rapid Review

Ignacio Franco Vega, Anastasia Eleftheriou, Cynthia Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Background: Sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies among young people remain public health concerns in many countries. To date, interventions that address these concerns have had limited success. Serious games are increasingly being used as educational tools in health and professional public education. Although acknowledged as having great potential, few studies have evaluated the use of serious games in sexual health education among young people, and to date, there have been no published reviews of these studies. Objective: This study aims to assess the effects of video game–based sexual health interventions for risky sexual behavior in young people aged between 15 and 25 years. Methods: A rapid review of randomized controlled trials and quasi–randomized controlled trials was performed. The search included the following bibliographic databases: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Scopus. A total of 2 reviewers independently screened 50% (35/70) of the retrieved articles during the full-text screening phase. Results: From a total of 459 identified citations, after removing duplicates, 327 (71.2%) articles were deemed eligible for title and abstract screening. Of the 327 articles, 70 (21.4%) full texts were screened, from which 10 (3.1%) articles (evaluating 11 different games) were included in the review. The findings highlighted the considerable diversity in video game–based interventions and assessed sexual health outcomes. Although there were some promising findings in outcome studies using game-based interventions, the results across studies were mixed. Conclusions: Although game interventions for sexual health have been in existence for almost three decades, relatively few studies have evaluated them, and the results of previous outcome studies have been mixed. Moreover, there is little clarity regarding which specific elements of a game facilitate positive outcomes. We provide recommendations for future researchers developing video game–based interventions to improve sexual health in young people.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33207
JournalJMIR Serious Games
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by an Erasmus+ grant (project number 2020-2-UK01-KA205-079645).


  • mobile phone
  • rapid review
  • serious games
  • sex education
  • sexually transmitted infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biomedical Engineering


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