Gamification for Health Promotion

Gamification for Health Promotion

We develop, evaluate and implement gamified and health game interventions for different health related purposes. Our target group consists of healthcare providers, health professionals, children, adolescents and families.

Our interventions aim to:

  • increase knowledge, understanding and skills
  • support behavior change and healthy life style
  • strengthen motivation, self-efficacy, self-esteem and health literacy

Key aspects in our projects are:

  • Our interventions are developed and researched in a multidisciplinary team of researchers and stakeholders, based on the latest research evidence and relevant theory.
  • We follow rigorously user-centered design process and principles and value highly the needs, experiences, perceptions and expectations of our target groups.
  • We conduct studies during the development of the interventions to assess their usability and feasibility from the perspective of the users and contexts of use.
  • We conduct studies during the implementation of the interventions to assess their validity, quality, effectiveness and implementation from the perspective of the user outcomes, stakeholders and organizations.

Our projects are multidisciplinary and international. We also participate in other projects in the field of serious gaming and gamification.




Improving Children Hand Hygiene

Candy project targets pre-school aged children’s hand hygiene in a novel way by developing, evaluating and implementing smart IoT-based and gamified intervention. Project is carried out together with the University of Bamberg and studies are conducted in Finland and in Germany.


Read more: 
Dangis G, Terho K, Graichen J, Günther S, Rosio R, Salanterä S, Staake T, Stingl C, Pakarinen A. Hand hygiene of kindergarten children—Understanding the effect of live feedback on handwashing behaviour, self-efficacy, and motivation of young children: Protocol for a multi-arm cluster randomized controlled trial. PlosOne.

Graichen J, Stingl C, Günther SA, Staake T, Pakarinen A, Rosio R, Salanterä S, Terho T. 2022. No Longer Without a Reward: Do Digital Rewards Crowd-Out Intrinsic Motivation of Young Children. International Conference on Information Systems 2022. Conference Proceeding.

Contact information:
PI (University of Turku): Anni Pakarinen, PhD, MHSc, RN,


Dreamcatcher project

During the Dreamcatcher project, a health game intervention aims to educate preschool-aged children (4-6y) to be prepared for anesthesia and to reduce their anxiety. Project is carried out together with the University of Iceland and studies are conducted in Finland and in Iceland.

Read more:
Ingadóttir B, Laitonen E, Stefánsdóttir A, Sigurdardottir AO, Brynjólfsdóttir B, Parisod H, Nyman J, Gunnarsdottir K, Jonsdottir K, Salanterä S, Pakarinen A. Developing a health game to prepare preschool children for anesthesia: A formative research using child-centered approach. JMIR Serious Games, 20;10(1):e31471.

Contact information:
PI (University of Iceland): Brynja Ingadóttir, PhD, RN, CNS (Landspitali University Hospital), Associate Professor (University of Iceland),
PI (University of Turku): Anni Pakarinen, PhD, MHSc, RN,


HEAL project
Health Equity for children and AdoLescents – Empowering Healthy Lifestyles with Smart Technologies

The HEAL Project is an international collaboration of Higher Education Institutions and SMEs led by the University of Turku in partnership with Univeristy of Jyväskylä, Uppsala University, the University of Lleida and Çankırı Karatekin University University. HEAL project aims to develop and pilot test an innovative HEAL intervention for children and adolescents (6-13-year-old) including cutting-edge tools and technologies to foster their health literacy and empower them to adopt healthy lifestyles, and to ultimately promote their physical (physical activity, nutrition, sleep) and psychosocial health.

Contact information:
PI Anni Pakarinen, PhD, MHSc, RN,

The Finnish Nursing Education Foundation sr
Turku University Foundation
Finland-China Food Health (FCFH) network, University of Turku
Turku University Hospital Foundation


NO! To smoking & FUME

NO! To smoking & FUME

The aim of the project is to increase understanding on health literacy, and tobacco-preventive health education needs and expectations from adolescents’ perspective. Further, the aim is to develop a digital health game that supports health literacy and a tobacco free lifestyle in 10 to 13-year-old early adolescents.

More information:
Fume on mukana Terveyskylä.fi:n Nuortentalon sovellusten joukossa!

Contact information:
PI Heidi Parisod, PhD, MHSc, PHN/RN,



Stepping project

During the Stepping project, led by Stepfamily association of Finland, a mobile assisted intervention was developed. Intervention aims to support the wellbeing, relationships and functioning of stepfamilies.
Read more:
Selänne L. Heikinheimo K, Pakarinen A. 2022. Mobiiliavusteinen ja ammatillisesti ohjattu uusperheinterventio – Intervention soveltuvuus uusperheiden ja sote-ammattilaisten näkökulmasta. HOITOTIEDE 34 (1), 15–26.

Pakarinen A & Heikinheimo K. 2019. Uusi perhe haastaa uusperheen – uusparien ja ammattilaisten näkemyksiä uusperheiden haasteista. Perheterapia 2/2019, 6-17.

Contact information:
PI Anni Pakarinen, PhD, MHSc, RN,

Qvalidi 2019 Tool

Qvalidi 2019 tool

Qvalidi 2019 tool was developed during 2017-2018 among team of experts from health care and information technology. The Qvalidi 2019 tool was developed based on research and current guidelines that are concerning health applications (non medical devices). The original tool includes 49 questions that are devided into four areas: health/wellness, technical features, user orientation, and safety.

Qvalidi tool aims to evaluate the quality and validity of digital health applications and health games. Tool can be used by developers as a guidance in product development and by health care providers when choosing high quality digital health solutions to be implemented in health care.

Currently, the on-going study on Qvalidi Tool aims to design a quantifiable assessment instrument based on its distinctive domains. The development engages the participation of diverse subject-matter experts in relevant fields of ehealth and research to validate the scoresheet items that represent the Qvalildi checklist. The study brings forth the Qvalidi scoresheet and user manual.

Read more:
Hamari L, Parisod H, Pakarinen A, Skogberg M, Aromaa M, Leppänen V, Salanterä S. 2020. Digitaalisten terveys- ja hyvinvointisovellusten kehittäminen, arviointi ja raportointi: Qvalidi 2019 -tarkistuslistan kehittäminen ja sisältö. Hoitotiede 2020, 32(1), 52–66

Contact information:
Lotta Hamari, PhD, MHSc, PT,



Qvalidi 2019 Tarkistuslistan oikeudet omistaa Qvalidi asiantuntijaryhmä, joka on kehittänyt tarkistuslistan. Käyttö edellyttää asianmukaista viittausta artikkeliin: Hamari L, Parisod H, Pakarinen A, Skogberg M, Aromaa M, Leppänen V, Salanterä S. 2020. Digitaalisten terveys- ja hyvinvointisovellusten kehittäminen, arviointi ja raportointi: Qvalidi 2019 -tarkistuslistan kehittäminen ja sisältö. Hoitotiede 2020, 32(1), 52–66.
Qvalidi 2019 työkalun saa käyttöönsä täyttämällä käyttöpyyntölomakkeen.

Link for the Qvalidi checked applications


Principal investigator

Anni Pakarinen Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD, MHSc, RN

Research personnel

PhD students

Johanna Nyman, RN, MHsC, PhD candidate Supporting early adolescents’ health related self-efficacy – Development and evaluation of an intervention.

Minna Laiti, Radiographer, MHSc, PhD researcher. Sexual and gender diversity in secondary school nursing practice- Development of framework for interaction between LGBTQ+ youth and school nurse.

Henna Hakojärvi, RDH, MHSc, Doctoral researcher. Child perspective in participatory school-based oral health education.

Anna Tornivuori, RN, MHSc, Doctoral researcher. Chronically ill adolescent´s and  transition of care-  digital services  and development of an e-coaching model

Sónia Borges Rodrigues, MNSc, Doctoral researcher (Nursing School of Lisbon)

Kaile Kubota, MHSc, Doctoral researcher. Researcher in HEAL project.

Elina Laitonen, RN, MHSc, Doctoral researcher. Researcher in Dreamcatcher project.

Glenda Dangis, RN, MHSc, Doctoral researcher. Researcher in CANDY project.

Annika Nordberg, PHN, MHSc, Doctoral researcher, Researcher in HEAL project.

Master students

  • Habib Raj RN, BHSc – WellWe project
  • Yaw Oboku BHSc – HEAL project
  • Salla Nyrönen, RN, BHSc – HEAL project
  • Nea Cedercreutz, RN, BHSc – HEAL project