Research Picks Extra – March 2016

Playing serious games as you get older

Research published in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations suggests that there are many opportunities for designers of console, or video, games to harness the healthcare of older people and improve wellbeing and keep minds active through old age. The team tested current games, particularly those that involve physical activity and interaction with the console through hand controllers, motion detectors and cameras, and found many to be rather lacking for this demographic. As such, they have highlighted particular issues and new design considerations that might be useful in the next generation of serious games for older players.

Pyae, A., Raitoharju, R., Luimula, M., Pitkäkangas, P. and Smed, J. (2016) ‘Serious games and active healthy ageing: a pilot usability testing of existing games’, Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.103–120.

Hotel horror

Research from the USA into global terrorist activity reveals the cyclical nature of attacks on non-military and non-governmental targets, namely hotels and tourist destinations. Sofia Dermisi of the College of Built Environments, at the University of Washington, in Seattle, has investigated the patterns to reveal that there may be an eight-year attack cycle on hotels and a three-year cycle on casualties over many years. Her data are based on the period 1996-2014 during which there were 73 terrorist attacks on hotels causing more than 1000 fatalities and more than 3000 injuries. Specifically, attack frequency on such targets has increased by 75% since September 11, 2001 and many new “hot spots” have emerged recently. The impact of terrorist attacks on hotels has led to a decline in the hospitality trade in some regions, with a decline luxury revenues of 7% worldwide, although the decline is only 1.7% in the USA following an attack.

Dermisi, S. (2015) ‘Hotel terrorist attacks and their worldwide/USA performance implications’, Int. J. Built Environment and Asset Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.307–328.

Sticks and stones

Those in the “helping” professions must consider the terminology and language they use carefully when mental health is in discussion to avoid stigmatizing those patients with particular problems. “The use of language in rephrasing and reframing clinical observations of complex experiences can be understood within the framework of complexity theory,” explains Christopher Peyton Miller of the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. The research suggests that more successful outcomes emerge through deliberation rather than a monolithic response. Miller adds that a measure approached can “create the atmosphere for the beginnings of a discussion about how we use language to describe the changes and adaptations possible in mental health and its leadership, in the face of complex situations.”

Miller, C.P. (2016) ‘Mental health leadership and complexity’, Int. J. Complexity in Leadership and Management, Vol. 3, Nos. 1/2, pp.154–161.

Twitter might do more harm than good for diabetes

New research from Finland suggests that the popular microblogging platform, Twitter, provides useful community and information for people with diabetes. The researchers analyzed almost 10000 twitter updates, colloquially known as tweets, that contained the words “diabetes” and “diet” and demonstrated that they could fruitfully map public opinion and concerns surrounding this health condition. The research also showed that much of the information is being disseminated by concerned or interested lay people and that healthcare workers should be aware of this as a potential problem for their patients. They add that more research is now needed to trawl the twitterhood to see what kinds of problematic information and websites are being shared.

Eriksson-Backa, K., Holmberg, K. and Ek, S. (2016) ‘Communicating diabetes and diets on Twitter – a semantic content analysis’, Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.8–24.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.