University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Article number1225
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2015


Background: With ongoing concerns about the sexual health and wellbeing of young people, there is increasing need to innovate intervention approaches. Engaging parents as agents to support their children, alongside capitalising on increasingly sophisticated technological options could jointly enhance support. Converting existing programmes into interactive game based options has the potential to broaden learning access whilst preserving behaviour change technique fidelity. However the acceptability of this approach and viability of adapting resources in this way is yet to be established. This paper reports on the process of converting an existing group programme ("What Should We Tell the Children?") and tests the acceptability within a community setting. Methods: Translation of the original programme included selecting exercises and gathering user feedback on character and message framing preferences. For acceptability testing, parents were randomised to either the game (n = 106) or a control (non-interactive webpage) condition (n = 76). At time 1 all participants completed a survey on demographics, computer literacy and Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) items. Post intervention (time 2) users repeated the TPB questions in addition to acceptability items. Interviews (n = 17) were conducted 3 months post intervention to gather qualitative feedback on transfer of learning into real life. Results: The process of conversion identified clear preferences for first person role play, home setting and realistic characters alongside positively phrased feedback. Evaluation results show that the game was acceptable to parents on cognitive and emotional dimensions, particularly for parents of younger children. Acceptability was not influenced by baseline demographics, computer skills or baseline TPB variables. MANOVA analysis and qualitative feedback suggest potential for effective translation of learning into real life. However attrition was more likely in the game condition, potentially due to feedback text volume. Conclusions: A manualised group programme can be viably converted into a serious game format which is both cognitively and emotionally acceptable. The intervention may be more effectively targeted at parents with younger children, and further game developments must particularly address information dosing. Establishing the viability of digitally converting a group programme is a significant step forward for implementation focused research.


© 2015 Bayley and Brown. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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