Design and Evaluation of Health Visualizations for Older Adults
Older adults, those 60 years and above, represent the quickest growing demographic group in the United States. Additionally, health related changes associated with aging make this population one of the primary consumers of health care resources. Innovative informatics solutions can assist older adults in maintaining health and independence. One such approach is through smart home technologies, residences with technology embedded within the infrastructure of the home to unobtrusively monitor and assist older adults with activities of daily living. To present data collected from home based monitoring including smart homes, and other informatics tools such as telehealth in a meaningful manner, I describe work in the development of health visualizations for older adults. Though a body of work has shown that older adults find utility in technology to support their health and wellness, there has been limited research examining how this would translate to data visualizations. I start by looking at potential differences in how older adults process graphical information compared to the general population through a set psychophysics experiments. I then apply a user-centered design approach to iterate on health visualizations from early mockups to fully interactive prototypes. I describe different approaches for evaluating visualizations with older adults, and report on the findings of the evaluations. Finally, I thematically analyze the evaluation sessions to extract themes associated with how older adults utilize health visualizations. Based on these themes, I provide a set of recommendations to assist other researchers and designers in this domain as they develop older adult focused visualizations. This work represents an end-to-end process from initially identifying older adult visualization needs through to the design and evaluation of interactive visualizations. The three primary contributions in this research are: 1) comparing graphical perceptual needs of older adults with that of the general population, 2) comparing different approaches towards evaluating health visualizations, and 3) providing a set of guidelines to inform the design of health visualizations for older adults.