Digitizing Health Interventions: Considerations and Strategies to Engage Community Audiences

Part of the BCTR Talks at Twelve series.

Digital health platforms have enormous potential as scalable tools to improve health promotion delivery by improving effectiveness, efficiency, accessibility, and personalization. As mobile devices become ubiquitous in daily life, using digital strategies to reach families where they live, work, and play is important. For parents, there is interest in digital health interventions, particularly those that allow flexibility, are easy to use, practical and engaging, and provide credible information, including tailoring and opportunities for their children to be directly involved. For digital health interventions, there is a need to understand the digital landscape of the intended audiences and to apply a user-centered design approach to optimize engagement. Digital interventions provide enormous potential for translating research into practice.

Bellows is an associate professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences. In 2021 she joined the faculty at Cornell after spending 20 years at Colorado State University. Her research is focused on the development of eating habits and physical activity patterns in early childhood; interventions in the early care setting; and the influence of parental behaviors and the home environment on the development of these behaviors. Much of her work is focused on health-disparate populations, including those with limited resources, who are Hispanic/Latino, and living in rural communities. As an interventionist, Bellows is interested in the optimization of intervention design as well as m-Health and digital strategies. Additionally, Bellows has worked with an interdisciplinary food systems team contributing expertise in diet quality, food security, the food environment and rural communities. Her work has received funding from USDA, NIH, and community foundations. In 2011, Bellows was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama. In 2019, she received the Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior’s Mid-Career Award. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Oke is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Health Behaviors Lab, chaired by Bellows. She earned her master’s in biomedical visualization from the University of Illinois Chicago where she was trained in various aspects of visual design and communication. Her thesis work involved the development of a mobile application for patients with obesity. Currently, she is working on designing and developing a mobile parenting app for parents of preschoolers focused on nutrition and physical activity behaviors. Oke is passionate about understanding how participants engage with digital health behavior platforms. She hopes to make a future impact on health behaviors in various populations by exploring the interplay between digital platform design approaches (e.g., user-centered design), behavioral science, and implementation science.

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