Joining forces in research: Introducing the EHPS Special Interest Group on Digital Health and Computer-tailoring
By Emma Norris, on 1 October 2019
By Dr Laura M König – University of Konstanz, Germany & Dr Eline Suzanne Smit – University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
At this year’s 33rd Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS), held in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Digital Health and Computer-tailoring was officially launched. This SIG aims to bring together researchers from all over Europe (and beyond) to advance research in the field of digital health promotion by stimulating networking, the exchange of ideas and joint initiatives.
Interest in digital health promotion tools is growing in the general public, in policy making and in research. Recent reviews suggest that digital tools may be effective in changing a range of health behaviours, but it is also clear that there are many open questions regarding the design of digital interventions, e.g. to ensure the highest possible retention rates, their evaluation, e.g. methodological questions about ideal sampling designs, and their implementation.
To advance the field of digital health promotion, the founding of an EHPS Special Interest Group was already discussed at the EHPS conference in 2017, held in Padua (Italy). Following a survey among EHPS members (N=38), it became clear that respondents were interested in a broad range of topics including wearable devices and mobile interventions, but also online interventions more broadly and the method of computer-tailoring of digital interventions. The SIG’s mission statement therefore was formulated as “[building] a community of interested EHPS members to advance digital health and computer-tailoring research and to provide a forum to discuss new evidence, underlying mechanisms and specific components of digital health interventions that may lead to enhanced behavioural outcomes”. The founding of the SIG was announced in the European Health Psychologist in summer 2019, and it was officially launched during our first meeting on 5th September 2019 in Dubrovnik.
The launch meeting
The official launch (or lunch, as the meeting was scheduled during lunchtime) meeting was well attended: More than 30 EHPS members had already expressed their interest in advance, and even more people actually attended the meeting. It was great to see so many conference attendees interested in digital health and computer-tailoring all in one room!
After a general introduction to the SIG’s background and aims, we asked the attendees to discuss their ideas for the agenda of the SIG and future SIG activities in small groups before the ideas were fed back to all attendees and the SIG’s organising committee. In addition, we opened a call for applications to join the SIG organising committee and we are happy to say that all open positions in the committee are now filled. We are, however, always happy for people to actively contribute to the SIG, e.g. by providing input for our newsletter or by organizing a SIG related activity, so do get in touch in case you would like to contribute in any way!
Who’s on the organising committee?
Presently on the SIG’s organising committee are the following people:
Dr Eline Smit (chair)
Dr Laura König (co-chair and social media officer)
Dr Alexis Ruffault & Dr Camille Vansimaeys (communications committee)
Dr Ann DeSmet (membership officer)
Laura Maenhout & Dr Olga Perski (events committee)
Dr Katie Newby (secretary)
In addition to this core team, we have an advisory board consisting of scholars with extensive experience in digital health and computer-tailoring, as well as with running a successful SIG within the International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA). The board of advisors presently consists of:
Prof Corneel Vandelanotte
Prof Hein de Vries
Based on the suggestions collected during the launch meeting and in the initial survey, the organising committee already decided on some future activities. To communicate with our members, we created a Twitter account (@EHPSDigiHealth) that already gained more than 150 followers since it was registered. Furthermore, we will send quarterly newsletters to all our members through our mailing list that will be curated by our communications committee. Through the Twitter account and the newsletter, we will share recent publications of our members and upcoming events, but also share other news or announcement of relevance to the community. If you would like us to share your publication or you came across an event that might be of interest to our members, please let us know – by e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org – so we may be able to include your item in one of the first newsletters already! In addition, we will use these platforms to inform our members about calls for contributions for future SIG activities and initiatives which will be coordinated by our events committee consisting of Laura Maenhout and Olga Perski. First activities are already being discussed, so stay tuned for more information very soon!
When you are a member of the EHPS, you can join our SIG by contacting Ann deSmet, our membership officer, at email@example.com.
Food for thought!
We would very much like to welcome your input, in general, but especially concerning the following questions:
- What SIG activities would you be interested in?
- What are current challenges in the field of digital health that a collaborative initiative could target?
We are looking forward to your suggestions.
Dr Laura M König (@lauramkoenig) is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Konstanz, Germany. She is the co-chair and social media officer of the EHPS Special Interest Group on Digital Health and Computer-Tailoring (@EHPSDigiHealth). Her research focuses on how to promote the uptake and prolonged use of mobile interventions for eating behaviour change. She is particularly interested in reducing participant burden by making interventions simpler and more fun.
Eline Smit (@smit_eline) is an assistant professor at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research/ASCoR, University of Amsterdam. She is the chair of the EHPS Special Interest Group on Digital Health and Computer-Tailoring (@EHPSDigiHealth) and the secretary of the Amsterdam Center for Health Communication. Her main research interests concern tailored digital health communication, the integration of digital health interventions into the healthcare setting and the exploration of novel tailoring strategies, such as message frame tailoring. She has an extensive track record of peer-reviewed articles and has obtained several grants for research projects in this field, among which a prestigious Veni grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).