Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

April H. Vallerand


Purpose: The most common symptom of sickle cell disease is pain, which occurs as the cells clump compromising further blood flow to distal organs. Despite the advancement in pain management, many children and adolescents' pain remains under treated. The purpose of this study is measure the effectiveness of a videogame as a developmentally appropriate non-pharmacological modality on pain in adolescents 12-21 years of age with sickle cell crisis.

Methods: A one-group repeated measure quasi-experimental design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of using videogames on pain in a sample of adolescents 12-21 years of age. Using a repeated measures design permits intensive scrutiny of within-patient variability. Quasi-experimental study designs have been developed to provide alternative means of examining causality in situations not conducive to experimental controls. A sample of 30 hospitalized adolescents (12-21 years of age) diagnosed with sickle cell disease pain were enrolled. Recruitment of participants was undertaken at University of Illinois Children's Hospital and Advocate Children's Hospital.

Results: The Cronbach's alpha coefficient for the 19-item in level of engagement instrument was 0.82. The presence self-assessment manikin scores selected by participants after playing the videogame were 63.3% for the score of 1, 26.7% for the score of 2 and 3.3% for the scores of 3, 5 and 6. The decrease in pain level from baseline to after playing the videogame was statistically significant (F = 29.28, p < 0.0001). Additionally, the decrease in pain level from each time point and the adjacent time point was statistically significant; pain 0 minute vs pain 15 minutes (p <0.0001), pain 15 minutes vs pain 30 minutes (p <0.0001) and pain 30 minutes vs pain 45 minutes (p <0.006). Although the data analysis did not yield statistically significant results, an inverse relationship has been found between the levels of pain and engagement.

Conclusion: Results from this study were consistent with prior literature that used similar technologies with different populations such as burn care, painful medical procedures and cancer pain. The use of videogames as a distraction modality has been proven to show positive and significant results in the treatment of acute pain. Results from this study show promising findings related to pain management that can be more accessible to adolescents with sickle cell pain at home and in the hospital setting.

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Nursing Commons