Designing Personally Relevant Avatars for Digital Health Interventions: The Biocultural Perspective of Presence

Durneva, Polina
Lerouge, Cynthia
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Digital health interventions (DHIs) show great promise in empowering patients to take positive action toward their self-care by helping them with chronic disease self-management efforts. However, problematic user engagement with DHIs is a key issue preventing the full realization of DHI benefits. DHI design issues, such as lack of personal relevance, can negatively impact user engagement and consequently prevent patients from entering the empowerment process. The literature recognizes that avatars can be used to assimilate a self-concept during human-computer interaction and enhance personal relevance through self-presence. Yet, little is known about designing avatars to achieve self-presence in the context of digital health. This paper reports the results of a design science research study that explores key design elements that can facilitate a personal connection between users and technology by inducing self-presence through avatars. This study has implications for the theory-driven design of DHI to engage users with chronic conditions.
Health Behavior Change Support Systems (HBCSS), avatar, consumer health informatics, design principles, digital health, presence
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