Andrea Grimes Parker, founder and director of the Wellness Expertise Analysis Lab at Northeastern College, introduced a Voices of Discovery lecture Wednesday exhibiting how cellular well being apps incorporating household and social interplay are profitable in selling life-style modifications and constructing neighborhood.
Fitbits are a superb begin, however there are higher methods expertise can promote wellness and strengthen relationships — notably in communities of colour and low socio-economic standing the place well being disparities exist.
“A lot of the innovation in cellular well being has centered on particular person well being conduct modifications. We have to design expertise that helps construct social infrastructure. Doing so can nurture person engagement and straight deal with well being disparities,” mentioned Andrea Grimes Parker, founder and director of the Wellness Expertise Analysis Lab at Northeastern College, in a digital Voices of Discovery lecture to Elon audiences on Wednesday, March 9. The Voices of Discovery collection is sponsored by Elon Faculty, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Parker — an affiliate professor at Georgia Tech’s Faculty of Interactive Computing; adjunct affiliate professor with Emory College’s Rollins Faculty of Public Well being; and the Morehouse Faculty of Medication — detailed her findings round digital well being fairness on the intersection of human-computer interplay, social computing and public well being.
Cellular well being apps typically don’t result in lasting conduct modifications, analysis has proven. Many people have a tendency to show off or ignore notifications on our telephones because the novelty wears off. Though the analysis centered on well being disparities involving race, ethnicity and socio-economic standing is proscribed, it means that individualized apps have restricted impression amongst decrease socio-economic teams.
Decrease-income households are inclined to have much less entry to secure out of doors exercise areas, increased weight problems and child-obesity charges and have increased socioeconomic stressors that problem wholesome consuming and bodily exercise, Parker mentioned.
With the Wellness Expertise Lab, she designed software program tailor-made to “set up, enrich and have interaction social relationships” by household and neighborhood actions whereas accounting for environmental limitations to wellness. The outcomes have been promising.
Parker created Spaceship Launch, a sport and health dashboard that encourages households to be energetic to earn “gas factors” towards a baby’s rocket launch.
The interface rewards reflection on caloric consumption and actions with extra gas factors. A 3-week area research of 13 households confirmed optimistic outcomes: extra time engaged in reasonable and vigorous bodily exercise, relationship-building actions and conversations, and dialogues and connections to different households in neighborhood gyms the place this system was hosted.
Storywell is one other digital sport created by Parker which builds literacy and encourages bodily exercise by unlocking new story chapters as members meet “household challenges” and make progress.
Reflective questions integrated into the sport introduced conversations and bonding moments between mother and father and kids, and the bodily closeness of studying a narrative introduced households collectively.
A separate Storywell research confirmed success in constructing connections between neighbors in communities, even in areas the place residents feared crime.
Parker can also be researching methods social media and analytic instruments can assist empower youth to have interaction in social motion. Higher understanding of their social networks would give youth extra perception into the social capital inside their sphere of affect and improve civic and political engagement.
Her future social computing analysis will research interventions to maternal well being inequities amongst Black ladies, who’re 3 times extra seemingly than White ladies to die throughout being pregnant and childbirth, and the way cellular well being platforms could possibly be integrated into faith-based settings, which are sometimes central to Black communities.
“It’s key that we hold fairness in focus. It’s crucial that we construct expertise … that helps and strengthens these communities by addressing well being disparities by techniques that construct social infrastructure,” Parker mentioned.