As I sit down to reflect on my experience with ENTWINE Informal Care, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities that this Marie Skłodowska Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) funded by the European Union Horizon2020 has provided me. It’s been a journey of growth, learning, and collaboration that has impacted my personal and professional life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The program began in March 2019, but my journey with the ENTWINE project began in October 2019 when I moved to the beautiful island of Gotland in Sweden. I was thrilled to be a part of this program as informal caregiving was already interesting to me personally, given that I had been an informal caregiver for my father for over a year. So, I have a personal motivation to work in this area. I am also interested in the field of designing IT systems, and I was delighted to find that these two interests aligned so well in my project in ENTWINE.
One of the most exciting aspects of ENTWINE was the opportunity to work with other PhD students hosted across five different countries in Europe. You may read more about ENTWINE and the research done here. The cohort was diverse, and we all brought our unique experiences and perspectives to the table. The training courses offered through ENTWINE were invaluable in helping us develop the skills and knowledge needed to conduct high-quality research in the field of caregiving. We received training in areas such as caregiving, persuasive designing, positive technology research methods, entrepreneurship, and many more. The courses were rigorous and challenging, but they were also fun and engaging. It was clear that the program coordinators had put a lot of effort into designing a curriculum that would equip us with the skills and knowledge we needed to contribute positively in our respective fields. Another highlight of the program was the opportunity to work with multiple industry and academic partners. We had the chance to discuss our work and learn from them through dedicated research secondments. My secondments were at the University of Twente and the University of Oulu, where I spent three months each. These secondments helped shape my PhD and helped form good collaborations.
AnhörigCare: An eCoaching Application for Informal Caregivers in Sweden
My PhD work focuses on designing a persuasive eCoaching application (AnhörigCare) for informal caregivers in Sweden. ‘AnhörigCare’ means caring for ‘anhöriga’, the Swedish word for relatives. Informal caregivers are individuals who take care of their sick family members or friends suffering from a long-term illness. Caregiving can be difficult and can affect the well-being of the caregiver and they often experience stress and anxiety. As a result, my research focuses on designing an eCoaching application called AnhörigCare for caregivers in Sweden to support them in their caregiving activities and assist them in self-care.
‘AnhörigCare’ means caring for ‘anhöriga’, the Swedish word for relatives.
Persuasive System Design
AnhörigCare was designed using the Persuasive System Design (PSD) model. The PSD model is a comprehensive framework created to assist in designing systems that can impact users’ behavior. It offers designers a methodical approach to designing persuasive IT applications that are tailored to the specific needs of caregivers, making them more effective in assisting them to achieve their objectives. It also presents a structured design strategy for creating appealing and practical interventions. Additionally, the PSD model offers organized design principles that can be utilized by designers. This model proposes 28 design principles grouped into four dimensions: primary task support, dialogue support, credibility support, and social support. The first dimension, primary task support, aims to assist users in accomplishing their intended behavior. The second dimension, dialogue support, employs design principles that encourage users through feedback and interaction with the application. The third dimension, credibility support, employs techniques that enhance the application’s perceived credibility and trustworthiness by the user. The fourth and final dimension, social support, uses methods to leverage social influence (illustrated in the figure below).
The Design Process
AnhörigCare aims to provide access to practical information, access to formal services related to caregiving, and access to an online forum that can connect caregivers with each other to feel part of a community. This figure illustrates the activities in this project to design the final version of AnhörigCare.
We started with a review of literature. The extant literature points to access to information regarding caregiving, access to formal services to assist caregivers, feeling of community, words of acknowledgment and encouragement, self-care, and informal peer support as major needs of caregivers. The descriptions of their needs were compared with the persuasive design principles from the PSD model. Based on this match, design principles was chosen to meet their needs, creating the first version of AnhörigCare. Expert evaluations were then conducted on this version and changes to navigation and presentation of content were made. In the next step, we interviewed caregivers in Sweden to elicit their needs for an eCoaching application. Based on these needs we presented some design suggestions to further update AnhörigCare. After which we conducted design workshops with caregivers as a means to involve them in the design of AnhörigCare and finally a scenario-based user testing.
Based on the design workshops and user testing, the final design of AnhörigCare will be created. Here are some initial screenshots of AnhörigCare.
Watch this space for upcoming articles on this research!