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Keywords

adolescence, Hispanic Americans, peer group

 

Authors

  1. Norris, Anne E.
  2. Hughes, Charles
  3. Hecht, Michael
  4. Peragallo, Nilda
  5. Nickerson, David

Abstract

Background: Adolescents can use peer resistance skills to avoid being pressured into risky behavior, such as early sexual behavior. Avatar-based virtual reality technology offers a novel way to help build these skills.

 

Objectives: The aims of this study were to evaluate the feasibility of an avatar-based virtual reality peer resistance skill building game (DRAMA-RAMA), to explore the impact of game play on peer resistance self-efficacy, and to assess how positively the game was perceived.

 

Methods: Forty-four low-income early adolescent Hispanic girls were assigned randomly to either the intervention (DRAMA-RAMA) or attention control game (Wii Dancing With the Stars) condition. All participants were offered a five-session curriculum that included peer resistance skill content before playing their respective game for 15 minutes, once a week, for 2 weeks. Participants completed electronic surveys at baseline, after game play, and at 2 months to assess demographics, peer resistance self-efficacy, and sexual behavior. They also completed a paper-pencil game experience questionnaire immediately after game play. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, t test, chi-square, and analyses of covariance.

 

Results: Separate analyses of covariance showed a significant game effect at posttest for the peer resistance self-efficacy measure (F = 4.21, p < .05), but not at follow-up (F = 0.01, p = .92). DRAMA-RAMA was rated as positively as the Wii Dancing With the Stars (p > .26).

 

Discussion: This randomized control trial provides preliminary support for the hypothesis that playing an avatar-based virtual reality technology game can strengthen peer resistance skills, and early adolescent Hispanic girls will have a positive response to this game.