Informatics Seminar Series
Spring Quarter 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021

“Designing for coordination and intervention in behavioral health”

Gabriela Marcu
Assistant Professor of Information
School of Information, University of Michigan

Behavioral and mental health is an underserved area, and receives less focus in health informatics research. Technology can play a role in different types of coordination with meaningful impact on behavioral and mental health. However, it is critical for design in this space to engage with issues of agency, marginalization, and trauma. In this talk, I will share two projects in which I have grappled with these issues. The first explores challenges of coordination across clinical, school, and home contexts in support of children’s behavioral development. Collaborative technologies are needed to help stakeholders cross these organizational and disciplinary boundaries, so they can reduce tensions and work together. The second project I will share involves the coordination of strangers. UnityPhilly is a community-based intervention that uses a smartphone app to coordinate life-saving layperson response to an opioid overdose. Just prior to the pandemic, we completed a one-year pilot study with 112 participants who helped to revive 74 victims of overdose. Across these two projects, I will reflect on how we can design mobile and collaborative technologies can fill gaps in care coordination and provide supplemental interventions for behavioral and mental health.

Gabriela Marcu is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. She studies the delivery of behavioral health services and the use of digital health interventions. Her expertise is in designing and evaluating use of systems for health through qualitative methods, participatory design, community-based approaches, and field studies. She involves undergraduate researchers in all of her projects, and has been the recipient of a NCWIT Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award as well as an Early Career Mentor Award from the Council on Undergraduate Research’s Math and Computer Science Division. She holds a Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.S. in Informatics from the University of California, Irvine.

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