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Design Special Issue in Internet Interventions

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    Stephen Schueller

    Hi all,
    We’re still working out the final timeline but information for articles for a special issue on design is below.

    Designing mHealth Interventions for “Real-World” Users: Methodologies from Conception to Implementation

    Guest Editors
    Aaron R. Lyon and Stephen M. Schueller

    The development of mHealth interventions has burgeoned in recent years with a multitude of available clinical technologies for diverse end users. Internet websites exist for several health and mental health conditions, over 50,000 health-focused mobile applications are available on consumer-facing app stores, and various other wearable consumer devices are widely available. The research literature has grown considerably along with these products. Findings, however, are mixed. Although some trials find benefit of such tools, the results of systematic reviews often identify considerable variance in outcomes. Taken together, these findings suggest promise in continuing to pursue such interventions, but offer little guidance for clinical researchers who want to enter this area and build usable and useful interventions.

    Despite promising potential benefits of these interventions, a substantial “commercialization gap” between research and commercial exists. Those from clinical research backgrounds tend to develop interventions to submit to intensive testing to demonstrate their efficacy, such as randomized controlled trials. Commercial developers often conduct needs assessments, user-centered design, and usability testing to understand the target population and whether the product will be usable and useful.
    Clinical researchers often neglect this step for several reasons. First, their research training typically does not involve these methods, thus they lack knowledge surrounding their potential contribution and successful execution. Second, their projects often have an ultimate goal of evaluating efficacy, and devoting time to proper design and usability testing is sometimes perceived to be in conflict with the resource requirements of conducting an adequately powered randomized trial. Third, the reporting of such efforts is rarely an expectation or area of emphasis in the research journals that cater to clinical research audiences. As a result, these audiences typically lack the impetus or opportunity to learn from those who are tackling similar issues or to conduct this work themselves. However, the importance of building compelling, usable products as a vehicle for dissemination and implementation of scientific findings has led some researchers to begin to incorporate design thinking into various stages of the design process.

    The aim of this special issue is to bring together exemplary examples of user-centered design and usability testing in mHealth research. Submissions will span all stages of the development process, from conception to implementation; provide practical, detailed examples of relevant methodologies; and describe the anticipated benefits of these processes based on theory and documented user outcomes. This issue will serve as a collection of seminal “how to” reference material for use by those interested in conducting work in this area. This special issue is intended to increase the prominence of the newly formed Design SIG of the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII) and to increase the academic dialogue of this group.

    Format of Manuscripts

    Specifically, each manuscript will:

    1. Describe, and provide the rationale for, a specific step in the design process (e.g., structured ideation, formative or summative evaluations, prototyping, usability testing, iterative development).
    2. Provide an overview of the ideal way such an approach could be applied to mHealth interventions
    3. Provide a practical, detailed example outlining how this process was conducted in the context of an existing mHealth intervention
    4. Discuss qualitative and/or quantitative data derived from this process, how the example deviated from the ideal, lessons learned, and what modifications may be necessary in the context of mHealth work

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