Re-Mission 2 a “cancer fighting” game app helps young cancer patients Re-Mission 2 Cigna

Cigna, a global health insurance company, wants young cancer patients to have access to Re-Mission 2: Nanobots Revenge, a “cancer fighting” game. Players are placed into a virtual human body equipped with weapons such as chemotherapy and antibiotics to “fight” cancer.

The game was developed by a non-profit organization called HopeLab with help from a diverse set of professionals involved in cancer related healthcare. It was tested during a three month period where 375 young cancer patients were given access to it. By the end of the period 16% of patients had a higher usage of antibiotics and all of them, on average, maintained 41% higher blood levels of chemotherapy. The patients improved their knowledge of cancer and became more confident in their ability to get healthy.

“:Ten years ago, it would have seemed strange that a health insurance company would want to encourage children to play video games. With today’s healthcare gaming culture, though, it makes total sense.”

“Cigna thinks every young cancer patient should have access to Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge, a video game designed to empower kids to fight their disease and stick to their prescribed treatments. So it’s turned it into a mobile app that’s free to download in the App Store or on Google Play.”

“The game puts players inside a virtual human body and equips them with “weapons” like chemotherapy, antibiotics and immune cells to, literally, fight cancer. A non-profit technology organization called HopeLab developed it with input from oncologists, epidemiologists, cell biologists, behavioral psychologists, video game producers and young people with cancer.”

“Since 2007, Cigna has distributed the game for free to doctors and facilities that treat young people with cancer.”

“‘The more we looked at it, the more we found it an impressive way to break through with teenagers to understand their cancer and what it takes to fight and beat it,’ said Joe Mondy, director of public relations for Cigna. ‘We were won over by the fact that they’d actually done research on it.’”

“HopeLab worked with medical centers across the country to conduct a randomized, multi-center trial of the original game’s, Re-Mission, effect in 375 young patients with cancer (PDF). After three months, the patients who were given the game demonstrated improvements in quality of life, knowledge about cancer and belief in their ability to beat the disease. They also maintained 41 percent higher blood levels of chemotherapy and showed a 16 percent higher usage rate of antibiotics.”

“Researchers have linked adherence to treatments with better outcomes in certain cancers. Research has been mixed, though, on whether positive attitudes are associated with better cancer outcomes.”

“‘(In 2007), we distributed enough to put it in the hands of every kid who had cancer in the U.S.,’ Mondy said. Now, Cigna wants to expand the game’s reach by offering it as a free app for Android and iOS, rather than the CD-based format Cigna would send out to docs. ‘Our goal is to get this in the hands of every kid with cancer in the world.’”

“HopeLab recently re-designed the game into a series of six separate games that’s “less Americanized,” according to Mondy but just as effective in its mission. It based the re-design on the original study and a follow-on study that used brain-imaging technology to identify how interactive game play, versus passive viewing of information, motivates positive health behavior.”

“‘Research on the original Re-Mission showed that it impacted biology and behavior primarily by energizing positive motivation circuits in the human brain and giving players a sense of power and control over cancer,’ said Steve Cole, HopeLab’s vice president of R&D, in a prepared statement at the time of the second version’s launch. ‘That gave us a whole new recipe for engineering the games in Re-Mission 2 — by harnessing the power of positive motivation circuits in the human brain.’”

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