Employing Gamification to Relieve the Pain of Pediatric Cancer

Employing Gamification to Relieve the Pain of Pediatric Cancer


Here is a tough gamification challenge for you… Design and build an appealing app that is engaging enough to get kids who are in the grips of painful cancer to document their daily pain experiences.

To their credit, that is exactly what Toronto agency Cundari did.

The advertising, branding and design agency partner with pediatric oncologists at the Hospital for Sick Children (commonly known as SickKids) to create Pain Squad, the first iOS app designed to empower kids fighting cancer while offering critical insight to researchers who are designing future treatments to combat this disease.

“Pain Squad is easy to use, so it motivates kids to keep participating over the entire two weeks it runs,” said Brent Choi, Cundari’s Chief Creative Officer to Mashable.com. “Imagine how long it would take kids to fill in a written journal. It becomes a real reminder of the pain they’re going through.”

The iPhone app is a cop style game with assignments and rewards designed to entice patients/kids to document the painful factors of their illness in a fun and interactive way. Twice a day the Pain Squad app alerts the kids to log into the game and answer questions about their current pain condition. The data is then relayed to SickKids pediatric researchers who are engaged in improving cancer treatments while also reducing the distress caused by these life saving measures.

The diary/game begins with the kids accepting their new position on the police force as “Rookies” and allows them over the two week period to earn badges up to the rank of “Police Chief”. Throughout the app stars from the police drama, Rookie Blue, appear in video messages voicing words of encouragement.

“Kids using the app will start to understand what’s working for them in managing their pain,” says Mike Orr, Cundari’s Lead Digital Strategist. “It really empowers them and makes them feel like they have some control.”

Pain Squad is currently being rolled out to four other Canadian hospitals. The intent of all the parties involved is to make the app available across all borders to assist more kids and researchers across the globe in their efforts to relieve pain and end pediatric cancers.


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