Gaming used for teaching psychopharmacolgy

Teaching psychopharmacology to med students can be very dull. Often tried ways of teaching this subject were through lectures or in smaller groups during seminars. At the University of Minnesota Medical School they tested the use of gaming compared to the ordinary lectures. The study was conducted during a 6-week psychiatry clerkship of third year medical students. They made 140 multiple choice questions which were evaluated by a senior psychiatry consultant. One hundred and twenty five were selected for the game, 25 questions per subject: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) and modern antidepressants, Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA’s) and MAOinhibitors, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety/sedatives/hypnotics and mood stabilizers.

In a 45-min presentation, the senior resident serving as a quizmaster provided the game rules, formulated the questions, and controlled the time for answering. Each cell of a point grid consisting of four columns and five rows was assigned a particular point value, with higher scores representing more difficult questions (25, 50, 75, 100, and 125). Each point value was hyperlinked to another power point presentation of two slides, one with a MCQ and another with the correct answer. Both playing teams received questions in an alternating fashion, and were awarded points based on the degree of difficulty and complexity of the questions they selected. If the team, in turn, answered the question correctly, its name was placed in the appropriate square of the grid. If the answer was incorrect or the team remained silent in the allotted time (1 min), the other team was allowed to ‘‘steal’’ the question. If both teams failed to answer correctly, an ‘‘X’’ was placed on the corresponding grids. After each question was played, the
quizmaster provided a brief explanation on both the correct choice and the other alternatives.

The gaming students were compared to students receiving the normal lectures. The students in both conditions did very well, there was no significant difference in results between both conditions. Nevertheless, as to be expected the gaming group did enjoy the gaming more than those attending the lectures, they also had an increased knowledge of psychoparmacology and it stimulated their interest in the subject. The didactic approach with the gaming condition was higher rated than the lecture condition. In short the gaming method enhanced motivation and enjoyment.

Gaming for teaching can make learning more interesting. Other examples of gaming for teaching in med schools are:

  • ‘‘war games’’ to enhance high-risk clinical decision making
  • a quiz-type board game to teach medical microbiology
  • a ‘‘Survivor’’ game to review pulmonary physiology
  • a ‘‘Jeopardy’’ game to teach about ectopic pregnancy

Recently discovered the YouTube video on top of this post: ElderQuest, Geriatric Education Game for medical students, residents, and geriatric fellows; future versions will target allied health professionals as well. First of a series of health-education video games. Looks good you can even shoot the needed medication down from trees. Would you know of any other games for medical education, please let me know in the comments
Shiroma, P., Massa, A., & Alarcon, R. (2010). Using game format to teach psychopharmacology to medical students Medical Teacher, 1-5 DOI: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.509414