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FORUM

Healt h Matt ers This forum is dedicated to personal health in all its many facets: decision-making, goal setting, celebration, discovery, reflection, coordination­­—even entertainment. We’ll look at innovations in interactive technologies and how they help address current critical healthcare challenges. Elizabeth D. Mynatt, Editor 2012 June + May interactions26 Motivating Change with Mobile: Seven Guidelines Margaret E. Morris Intel | margaret.morris@intel.com People are becoming more resource- ful in the ways they use their mobile devices to take care of themselves. This can be explained by the con- vergence of three major forces: the rise in chronic disease, decreased access to clinical care, and stagger- ing innovation in mobile technology. Phones and other mobile devices, along with their applications, hold great promise for promoting health and associated lifestyle changes. Always at one’s side, these devices are trusted allies that know more about individuals’ lifestyles than most clinicians. They are also por- tals into the growing participatory medicine and Quantified Self move- ments, in which people track, ana- lyze, and share data typically man- aged by clinicians or businesses. To have a significant impact, health messaging on these devices must engage people emotionally and motivate sustained lifestyle change. Many of the behavioral shifts that improve health outcomes—such as consuming less, exercising more, or weighing oneself daily—are rela- tively simple. The challenge lies in persuading people to initiate and sustain changes that fly in the face of habit, culture, convenience, and immediate gratification. Behavior change is the science of motivating these difficult lifestyle shifts and helping people align everyday choices with long-term values. Here I draw upon relevant research in health psychology, psy- chotherapy, behavioral economics, and influence. The seven guidelines below are based on a range of tech- niques that have been evaluated for either health intervention [1] or per- suasive communication [2]. Remind people of who they want to be. To drive lifestyle change, health messaging should remind people of previously expressed self-ideals. This follows from research on cogni- tive dissonance, the discomfort with conflicts between one’s behavior and values [3]. People may reformu- late their values to accommodate for recent behaviors. And, when asked about intentions, people tend to give socially desirable responses and follow through on actions consis- tent with those intentions [4]. This tendency to follow through on previ- ously articulated intentions can be applied in a variety of ways, such as health contracts, to influence exercise and diet. Contracts should link healthful behaviors with an individual’s values. A contract, such as “I agree to avoid salt because it will help me manage my heart con- dition and spend more time with my grandchildren” can be renewed daily and shared to enhance account- ability. A variety of applications (e.g., Withings) permit immediate shar- ing of weight and other data across social network platforms. Health messaging should refer- ence relationships and other power- ful incentives for making difficult lifestyle changes to remind people of their values and previously set intentions. Iconic images such as interlocking hands can be Read the full FORUM.

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