Seven lessons for interdisciplinary research on interactive digital health interventions


Research and development for interactive digital health interventions requires multi-disciplinary expertise in identifying user needs, and developing and evaluating each intervention. Two of the central areas of expertise required are Health (broadly defined) and Human–Computer Interaction. Although these share some research methods and values, they traditionally have deep differences that can catch people unawares, and make interdisciplinary collaborations challenging, resulting in sub-optimal project outcomes. The most widely discussed is the contrast between formative evaluation (emphasised in Human–Computer Interaction) and summative evaluation (emphasised in Health research). However, the differences extend well beyond this, from the nature of accepted evidence to the culture of reporting. In this paper, we present and discuss seven lessons that we have learned about the contrasting cultures, values, assumptions and practices of Health and Human–Computer Interaction. The lessons are structured according to a research lifecycle, from establishing the state of the art for a given digital intervention, moving through the various (iterative) stages of development, evaluation and deployment, through to reporting research results. Although our focus is on enabling people from different disciplinary backgrounds to work together with better mutual understanding, we also highlight ways in which future research in this interdisciplinary space could be better supported.

Digital Health, 4, 1-13