The article I chose is titled “The Impact of Science Education Games on Prescription Drug Abuse Attitudes Among Teens”. In the United States, non-medical abuse of prescription medications is 2nd only to marijuana for teenagers – 2.6% of American teens have reported non-medical use of prescription drugs in the past month. The authors of this study believe that the combination of science and health related topics is the solution. Two games were created: CSI Web Adventures: Bitter Pill and Fatal Interactions. Serious games like these have become part of the curriculum in many schools.
The authors of this study have done their own research and development on serious games of this type. They address drugs and alcohol while incorporating science standards that have shown that a student’s knowledge is improved after playing them. Funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse was given to design CSI Web Adventures: Bitter Pill and Fatal Interactions. The games were created to show different consequences of prescription drug abuse using a forensic science storyline where the player of the game is the crime scene investigator. The games are free, you can use them on any browser, and each case takes 1 hour to get through.
The hypothesis presented was that scientific knowledge presented to the students in the games would make them end up having more negative reactions towards prescription drug abuse. 179 students from Texas public high schools were surveyed. 63.1% were female. 34 of the subjects were in 11th grade and 145 were in 12th grade. All were students in elective forensic science classes. The researchers surveyed the students about their opinions on prescription drug abuse before they participated in the game. 95 students played the Bitter Pill game and 84 played Fatal Interactions.
Three of the original questions asked had high shifts in opinion after playing the games. Regarding the question “Abusing prescription drugs is just typical teenage behavior”, those who completely disagreed went from 33.3% to 43.2 for those who played Bitter Pill and 33.3% to 50% for those who played Fatal Interactions. The question “If my friends were abusing prescription drugs, I probably wouldn’t mind” went from 45.3% disapproval to 54.7% for those who played Bitter Pill and from 53.6% to 65.5% for those who played Fatal Interaction. The final question, “Abusing prescription drugs is just as bad as abusing other drugs” went from 53.7% to 63.2% for those who played Bitter Pill and from 50% to 70.2% for those who played Fatal Interaction. (Klisch, Bowling, Miller, & Ramos, 2012)
The original three articles discussed the connections between ethnic and racial differences and their influence on prescription drug abuse; the motivation behind prescription drug abuse; and the influence of education level on prescription drug abuse. This article brings in another dimension by showing a way to influence the way young adults look at prescription drug abuse. The sample size is obviously small and there might be some issues because females are 63.1% of the study and males have been found to be more likely to abuse prescription drugs as shown in the previous studies. I do believe the study is valid and reliable, though. The percentage of females to males is not so great that it would invalidate the study.
I believe this study is incredibly meaningful in the search to find ways to prevents young people from abusing prescription drugs. A larger study would be useful in the future, but the small sample does show that these games had an influence on the students’ mindset in regard to prescription drug abuse.
Over the past few years, the problems with prescription drug abuse has become more and more of an public issue.