School of Informatics and Computing IUPUI

HCC Colloquium: Christina Harrington, Ph.D.

Participatory Approaches to Understanding and Designing for Health Behaviors Among the Aging Population

The field of pervasive computing has seen an emergence of health technologies targeting physical activity promotion or health maintenance, yet many see low and inconsistent usage rates or quick abandonment due to lack of motivational affordance and poor design consideration. Identifying useful and effective design elements of health and fitness technologies has the potential to lead to more meaningful experiences with these technologies, and thus should be a critical focus of design research. Through collaborative creative processes, participatory design provides useful insight and direction for the design of health technologies from underserved populations such as older adults who are often neglected in design. Participatory design centers underserved populations as co-creators of technology as opposed to just consumers, shifting how interaction is initially envisioned. This approach also has promise to provide a better understanding of health from a collaborative community perspective, which I and other researchers have found to lead to themes of holistic approaches to health, self-empowerment, and a shift in the ways we conceptualize technological health solutions. My research focuses on employing participatory research methods to evaluate and enhance underserved older adults’ experiences with health technologies. My overall objective is to understand health needs that can inform inclusive and participatory design methods to develop future technologies. In this way my work extends design past the emotional appeal of artifact, and addresses ways design researchers can improve health and wellness by leveraging the unique abilities and values of end users. I discuss recent research projects leveraging user-centered and participatory design methods to better interactions with health and wellness technologies among older adults.


Dr. Christina Harrington is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Communication Studies department at Northwestern University. As a designer and qualitative researcher, Dr. Harrington’s work focuses on understanding and conceptualizing technology experiences that support health and wellness among older adults and individuals with disabilities. Her current work involves leveraging co-creation and community-based participatory research methods to understand the health technology needs and experiences of low-income and minority older adults. Dr. Harrington completed her Ph.D. in Industrial Design from Georgia Tech prior to joining the Inclusive Technology Lab at Northwestern University.


Friday November 16, 2018 12:00 PM
Friday November 16, 2018 01:15 PM
IT 152
Jane Scully
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