Improving Health Outcomes in Young Cancer Patients

by HopeLab

For our work in cancer and obesity, HopeLab has been named one of Fast Company magazine’s 2009 Social Enterprises of the Year, along with eight other innovative organizations breaking new ground for the social good.

Fast Company recognizes Social Enterprises of the Year for “the kind the innovative thinking that can transform lives and change our world.” We’re thrilled to be named alongside groups whose work ranges from teen volunteerism to no-profit/no-loss drug development for the poorest of the poor -- it’s a fine list of dedicated folks doing their best to make positive (and creative) change.


True! Whether it’s word puzzles, Wii bowling, or Halo 3, video games are part of the everyday lives of today’s young people, according to a recent study. No surprise to folks who follow tech trends and youth culture – but the numbers are pretty impressive. In a Pew Reserach study released a few weeks ago, 1,102 teens between the ages of 12-17 were surveyed to find out what impact video games are having on their lives. A few noteworthy conclusions in the report include:

• Fully 99% of boys and 94% of girls report playing video games. • 80% of teens play five or more different game genres, and 40% play eight or more types. • Video gaming is a highly social experience. 76% of young people play with those they already know, in one way shape or form. • There are civic dimensions to game play. “Some particular qualities of game play have a strong and consistent positive relationship to a range of civic outcomes.” The implications are fascinating! How can we reach a generation of young people – our future leaders and followers – to become more aware of and actively engaged with important social issues? How might game developers, nonprofits and others looking into innovative new approaches to healthcare tap into the social experience of games to address issues like obesity, cancer, and other chronic diseases that impact young people?

Some see these stats on kids and video games as cause for concern. At HopeLab, we see opportunity – we’re looking for new ways to use technology to improve the lives of this savvy new population of consumers, with games like Re-Mission, new products that will promote physical activity, and more.

To read the full Pew report, check out the link below.


Robin Avant talking to a Pediatric Oncology nurse
Robin Avant talking to a Pediatric Oncology nurse

Two weeks ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a flood of nurses poured into the exhibit hall of the APHON conference as soon as the doors opened. I had never seen that many nurses eager to learn about what we’re doing, pick up a copy of Re-Mission -- and of course, get free pens.

APHON is the Association of Pediatric Hemotology/Oncology Nurses, which includes nurses from all over the U.S., even some overseas. For the third year in a row, HopeLab exhibited at the association’s annual conference to promote our Re-Mission video game. My colleague Robin and I took turns blasting away cancer cells and bacteria as we demonstrated the game to give nurses a first-hand experience of how Re-Mission works.

Plus, we had a chance to talk about the outcomes from our recent Pediatrics publication and to highlight some of the kids who’ve benefited from our work with Re-Mission in our booth property (check out the photos for more). In fact, two nurses from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital got really excited when they recognized two of their patients on our booth!

Best of all, we had great conversations with nurses who are already using Re-Mission in their hospitals and were able to introduce the game to nurses who had never heard of it. Sadly, there are new cancer patients diagnosed every day, but people we met at APHON are excited about Re-Mission as an innovative tool that works to give kids a sense of power and control over their disease!

Overall, it was an awesome event for HopeLab. Check out the pictures!

Robin Avant talking to a Pediatric Oncology nurse
Robin Avant talking to a Pediatric Oncology nurse


Meet Saret
Meet Saret

It was “love at first user test” when we HopeLab-ers met Saret. Direct input from our “customers” – young people themselves – is a key part of our product development work at HopeLab, and this summer Saret worked with us as an intern and participated in research we’re conducting to inform the next version of the Re-Mission video game.

Saret’s going to be a high school senior this fall. She’s 17, bright, loves learning about DNA and lounging by the poolside. Saret is also a cancer survivor. At age 16, she was diagnosed and treated for leukemia, a disease she didn’t even know was a type of cancer.

Saret tells us, “Being diagnosed with cancer was something I never thought would happen to me, especially at 16. Dealing with it was not easy because I was too weak. After my first round of chemo, I couldn’t even walk. And staying at the hospital for six months wasn’t the way I expected being 16 would be like.”

The HopeLab appeal for her? Saret wants to help people who are going through a similar experience that she went through, and she feels that HopeLab is doing “something that will actually help young people cope with cancer.”

Saret says, “I felt like I actually understood cancer and how chemo works [by playing Re-Mission]. Because when you’re at the hospital, the doctors try to explain it to you, but Re-Mission shows you exactly what happens when you are getting chemo.”

It’s young people like Saret, who help us create fun, effective products that appeal to our customers and that make positive change. Thanks Saret!

Answering that question was, in many ways, the reason HopeLab was founded and the vision behind the Re-Mission video game for teens and young adults with cancer. On August 4th, HopeLab announced evidence that games can indeed be designed for good, as demonstrated by research on Re-Mission published in the medical journal Pediatrics.

“We now know that games can induce positive changes in the way individuals manage their health,” said Steve Cole, HopeLab vice president of research and co-author of the study. “The game not only motivates positive health behavior; it also gives players a greater sense of power and control over their disease – in fact, that seems to be its key ingredient.”

The Re-Mission study is the largest randomized, controlled study of a video game intervention ever conducted, following 375 teens and young adults with cancer at 34 medical centers in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Participants who were given Re-Mission:

• Maintained higher level of chemotherapy in their blood • Took their antibiotics more consistently • Showed faster acquisition of cancer-related knowledge • Showed faster increase in self-efficacy

HopeLab is proud to have contributed to the growing scientific evidence that games can be a powerful tool in healthcare. The fact that Re-Mission works is one of the reasons we’re so passionate about getting the game into the hands of young cancer patients who can benefit!

Check out some press below



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Organization Information


Location: Redwood City, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
HopeLab Foundation
Redwood City, CA, California United States

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