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Qualitative Measures of Wellness

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posted on 24.06.2020, 19:39 authored by Corine BrittoCorine Britto
The highly personal nature of physical pain is challenging to communicate to others, which makes diagnosis and treatment difficult for those who suffer from chronic
illness. Issues of the body are traditionally described in scientific language which overlooks the lived experience of those with this illness. This biological gaze of illness
fails to include social and cultural influences on chronic disease. Despite the difficulty of expressing pain, metaphor and imagery can effectively articulate the invisible to
one’s self and others. How might design create opportunities to consider a more nuanced approach to articulating symptoms of chronic illness? Currently, people who suffer from autoimmune arthritic conditions experience bias from health care providers leading to delayed diagnosis. In my thesis I will explore how design methods can give a voice to
the daily pain of arthritis sufferers. Health trackers such as Fitbit have grown in popularity in recent years, but such tools
often reduce wellness to a number. My intervention borrows from self-tracking and builds on it by incorporating metaphor and visual storytelling. Early experiments showed that capturing embodied experiences through imagery and words allowed people to quickly identify their lived experience. This process also supports reflection
and story-telling, inspiring empathy and better conversations. Based on these experiments, I have prototyped a diary kit which enables health self-tracking while creating visual metaphors, empowering users to use their data to visualize barriers and limitations affecting daily life. Further testing will be conducted with people who suffer from arthritis to learn how the diary kit affects their awareness of pain and ability to articulate it to others. I predict this testing would show improved self-management which could result in better care.




Degree Type

Master's Thesis



Degree Name

  • Master of Design (MDes)


Dan Lockton

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