A videogame that will aid doctors in the identification of substance abuse – particularly the abuse of of prescription drugs – is in the final stages of testing.

The web-based game is based on research by Michael Fleming at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

It incorporated technology used to train FBI agents in interrogation methods.

Most medical students were not trained to discuss substance misuse issues with patients, and that was the inspiration for the project, said Fleming.

The game allowed doctors to choose from about 1,500 questions and responses – all drawn from Fleming's interviews with more than 1,000 patients receiving opioids for pain – and encouraged them to take a collaborative approach to substance misuse conversations.

It sought to teach doctors to look for warning signs of substance misuse, as well as to consider things such as a family history of drug problems. It also highlighted the importance of recognising nonverbal signs of abuse.

The as-yet-unnamed game will be available to medical schools and providers later this year, at a cost of roughly USD $50 per hour (about NZD $66).