Educational iPhone App
Developed as an engaging soft learning tool, Thirsty Pete represents an innovative solution to promote patient awareness of healthy hydration and behavioural change through game dynamics, teaching users about the benefits of adequate hydration. In order to test the efficacy of the application towards affecting behaviour change, the Hydration for Health initiative has supported the development of a pilot phase to evaluate it success and potential.
The character, Thirsty Pete, is an interactive water droplet and a font of knowledge on healthy hydration and other water-related topics. After downloading Thirsty Pete to their iPhones, users must care for him by correctly answering quiz questions to obtain virtual glasses of water. If he isn’t adequately hydrated, he becomes increasingly unhappy and ultimately ‘evaporates’. Users are rewarded for keeping Pete healthy and are given advice to help ensure they also stay well hydrated.
- The educational value of this app is immediately evident given the results of recent surveys suggesting that many people, including children, are not drinking enough.1 A UK survey demonstrated that 40% of 11-18 year-old children drink less than 1.2 litres per day2 compared with EFSA guidance on adequate intakes of 2.1 litres and 1.9 litres per day for 9-13 year-old boys and girls, respectively.3 In fact, it has also been reported that it’s not uncommon for school children to go 6 or 7 hours without a single drink.4
- More positively, a recently published study showed that a relatively simple but comprehensive educational intervention programme proved successful for enhancing hydration status in just 2 days and resulted in improved physical endurance in exercising children.5
- As well as quizzes and other features, there is also a ‘Wee Checker’ where users can monitor Pete’s hydration status – the darker the colour, the more concentrated the wee and the more dehydrated he is. This element is based upon the hydration chart developed by Professor Lawrence E. Armstrong.
So as a tool to help healthcare professionals educate patients and influence their behaviour, the value of the ‘Thirsty Pete’ iPhone app is immediately evident, particularly for younger patients. By placing factual information at the centre of the experience and making learning about healthy hydration entertaining and fun, it represents an innovative approach to healthy hydration advice and can even help address the potential long-term health risks associated with poor hydration choices.
Thirsty Pete is currently only available in the UK. Further information on the success and key learnings of the UK pilot programme will follow.
To view a demonstration of Thirsty Pete, visit the link below:
UK residents can download Thirsty Pete by clicking on the link below:
- Brander N. Drinking water in schools. Nurs Times 2003;99:50-1.
- Gregory J, Lowe S. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4 to 18 years. Vol 1. Report of the diet and nutrition survey 2000, Office of the Population Censuses and Surveys. Social Survey Division, HMSO, London.
- European Food Safety Authority, Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies. Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for water. EFSA Journal 8(3):1459-1507, 2010.
- Petraccia L, et al. Water, mineral waters and health. Clin Nutr 2006;25:377-85.
- Kavouras S. A., et al. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2011.