Games, Tech Keep Young Cancer Patients Connect

Cigna, HopeLab, Childhood Leukemia Foundation team up to support kids with cancer
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Cancer can be isolating and frightening, especially for kids. To support and empower young cancer patients, global health service company Cigna (NYSE: CI) has teamed up with the Childhood Leukemia Foundation (CLF) to provide free iPads preloaded with HopeLab’s cancer-fighting game app ReMission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge to patients through CLF’s Keeping Kids Connected program.

Keeping Kids Connected allows young cancer patients to stay in touch with family, friends, and school while actively receiving treatment. With funding support from Cigna and Cigna Foundation, CLF is distributing iPads, PCs, and laptops that can be enjoyed by multiple patients for a variety of uses at hospitals in 24 states across the US. Each iPad comes preloaded with HopeLab’s Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge app, developed with support from Cigna and Cigna Foundation. The app is one of six Re-Mission 2 online games designed to help young cancer patients fight their disease. Research shows that playing the games boosts players’ positive emotions, increases self-efficacy (their belief in their ability to fight cancer), and shifts attitudes about chemotherapy, which lead to better adherence to prescribed treatments.

“Mobile technology and games can be powerful tools to support and empower patients,” said Scott Josephs, MD, Cigna national medical officer. “The Childhood Leukemia Foundation’s Keeping Kids Connected technology program and HopeLab’s research-based Re-Mission 2 games represent innovative new approaches to consumer engagement in healthcare, and Cigna is proud to help young cancer patients access these programs.”

“Hospitals use technology provided through Keeping Kids Connected to help young cancer patients keep in touch with friends and family, keep up with their schoolwork, and keep up their spirits as they fight their disease,” said Barbara Reid-Haramis, executive director of the Childhood Leukemia Foundation. “HopeLab’s Re-Mission 2 online games and mobile app are fantastic tools that not only entertain patients but also empower them as they go through treatment.”

Each Re-Mission 2 game puts players inside the body to defeat cancer, using weapons like chemotherapy, antibiotics, and the body’s immune cells. The action parallels real-world medical treatments used to fight cancer. The games are designed specifically for teens and young adults who are at risk of adverse cancer outcomes due to poor treatment adherence. The new games apply insights from a brain-imaging study published in 2012 by HopeLab and Stanford University researchers showing that Re-Mission, a video game about killing cancer in the body, strongly activates brain circuits involved in positive motivation. This reward-related activation is associated with a shift in attitudes and emotions that helped boost players’ adherence to prescribed chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments in a previous study. As a result, each Re-Mission 2 game is designed to boost positive emotion, increase self-efficacy, and shift attitudes toward chemotherapy. More than 120 teens and young adults with cancer collaborated with HopeLab to develop and test the Re-Mission 2 games, which are now available free online at www.re-mission2.org.