Dojo - A Videogame Intervention for Youth in Residential Care

Project Lead Category Project status
Angela Schuurmans Anxiety | Depression Completed

Externalizing problems are the main reason youths are referred to residential care. However, often these youths also show co-morbid anxiety. This study aimed to test a videogame intervention (Dojo) that teaches youths relaxation-techiques in order to improve their emotion regulation.

Project team


Residential care is among the most intensive forms of treatment in youth care. It serves youths with severe behavioral problems and is primarily focused on targeting externalizing problems. Despite bestefforts, effect sizes remain moderate, which may be due to the disregarding of internalizing symptoms – in particular anxiety   and to limitations regarding the delivery model of interventions. This initial randomized controlled trial (n= 41) aimed to examine the effectiveness of a biofeedback videogame intervention (Dojo) for youths with and without intellectual disability (ID )in residential care with clinical levels of anxiety and externalizing problems.Dojo targets both anxiety and externalizing problems, and incorporates the principles of conventional treatment, while addressing its limitations.Youths were randomly assigned to playDojo(eight 30-minute gameplay sessions) or to treatment asusual (TAU). Measurements of anxiety and externalizing problems were conducted at baseline,posttreatment, and four-month follow-up through youths’self-report and mentor-report. Intention-to-treat analyses revealed decreases in self-reported anxiety at posttreatment (p= .056) and self-reported externalizing problems at follow-up (p= .031), and mentor-reported anxiety at both posttreatment(p=.017) and follow-up (p= .005) for participants in the Dojo condition compared to the control condition. These findings show that Dojois a promising, innovative intervention that engages high-risk youths.


  • A Randomized Controlled Trial to Test the Effectiveness of an Immersive 3D Video Game for Anxiety Prevention among Adolescents

    Scholten, H., Malmberg, M., Lobel, A., Engels, R. C. M. E., & Granic, I. (2016). PloS One, 11(1), e0147763. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147763

    Author: Hanneke Scholten

    Upload date: 01-27-2016

  • “Dojo”: A Videogame Intervention for Youths with Externalizing Problems and Anxiety. [A Pilot Study]

    Schuurmans, A. T., Nijhof, K. S., Vermaes, I. P. R., Engels, R. C. M. E., & Granic, I. (2015). Games for Health Journal, 4, 401-408.

    Author: Angela Schuurmans

    Upload date: 10-01-2015

Project team

Isabela Granic title=
Isabela Granic
Director of GEMH Lab

Professor and Chair of the Developmental Psychopathology department in the Behavioural Science Institute; writer; voracious podcast consumer; mother of two upstanding little gamers


Professor at McMaster's University & Co-founder of PlayNice Interactive


E-mail Isabela

Angela Schuurmans title=
Angela Schuurmans

Researcher, writer, and photography addict. Loves animals and lives together with one dog, two bunnies, and eight chickens.


PhD Candidate


E-mail Angela