Supporting Long-Term Health Monitoring by Reducing User Burden and Enhancing User Benefit
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The prevalence of smartphones and advances in low cost monitoring sensors have dramatically increased self-tracking in recent years. Among many other areas of self-tracking, health and wellness is one area that has received particular attention. However, along with this enthusiasm and growth, there exists a skepticism regarding these technologies and their ability to inspire and sustain individuals’ engagement with their everyday health and wellness in the long term. Many people fail to adopt, or they abandon health technologies after very little use, even if they are seeing benefits of use. Depending on the domain, lapsing with or abandoning health-tracking may not result in serious consequences, but it can become critical when it comes to child development tracking, leaving many missed opportunities. Thus, I decided to investigate the domain of child development monitoring, as a first step, because of its importance as a public health goal. In this dissertation I examine the feasible ways technology can reach families for regular child development tracking; how technology may impose burdens and benefits on its users; and how we can reduce user burden and enhance user benefits of child development tracking technology in support of long-term tracking. I report first on the design, development, and evaluation of two such systems, “@BabySteps” and “Baby Steps Text”, in which I investigated challenges and opportunities in child development tracking and explored how everyday technologies parents already use can be used to create an interactive public health system. Through these studies I was able to understand the feasibility and acceptability of social media, web portal and text messaging for child development tracking, as well as burdens and benefits parents experienced in their use. This triggered me to explore burdens and benefits associated with technology use in general and to develop the User Burden Scale and User Benefit Scale. Based on this background work, I examined the effects of specific design features in reducing burdens and increasing benefits in child development tracking system and evaluated the Baby Steps system by deploying it with 139 families over 20 months. Across these studies, I found that reducing user burden and enhancing user benefit in tracking technology can engage, inform, educate, and empower parents and make monitoring more accurate and meaningful. . I hope that this work will shed new light on how health tracking technologies can be designed to support awareness and long-term engagement in their users.