Drugs, forgetting and technology

Since October 2012 I’m on a quest to become a doctor (“Trust me, I’m a doctor”, “Doctor who?”, “Doctor Starwars”) and friends often ask me what I do at university all day. Up until now I wasn’t entirely sure of that myself, so explaining things was a bit tricky. However, last week I had to give a presentation about my research and spent too much time thinking and defining what I do, so now I like to think that I sort of know what I’m doing. Apparently this confusion is a normal thing when you’re a PhD student, so it doesn’t bother me that much.

My research interests

If you ask me what my research interests are, the short answer will be “drugs, forgetting and technology”. If you’re an academic, I’ll tell you that I’m interested in the impact of technology-based behaviour change interventions on medication-related forgetfulness (which is a specific aspect of unintentional non-adherence). I may also mention human error, prospective memory and other fancy words. But generally there are three main things I want to explore:

  1. What strategies people develop to remember their medication
  2. In what circumstances their strategies fail
  3. How technology can facilitate the creation of such strategies or support the existing ones

It is still pretty vague, but I’m in a process of defining my research question and formulating aims and goals of the whole thing. One thing that’s pretty clear now, though, is that I may be asking friends about their meds and maybe even taking photos, and as a result will get banned from parties.

My research

The general plan is to build some sort of a device that supports people’s habits and medication-taking routines. I would love to build a physical object (I love cute robots after all), but I don’t discard the idea of a smartphone app (okay, I do, I’m biased) or a digital wristband, or whatever. Before I decide what I’m going to build I need to understand the problem and this is what I’m doing now: I’m gathering information about habits, daily routines and memory aids people use. I’m also going to review existing technology to see what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully this time next year I will start sketching design ideas, building prototypes and testing them with users.

Wanna help?

At the moment I’m running two online surveys to understand the mechanisms behind remembering one’s meds. I’m looking at two distinct user groups, so I can later compare and contrast their strategies, and hopefully come up with some useful conclusions. The user groups are:

You are welcome to participate in my research if you fit into any of these groups and of course feel free to share the links. I’m always looking for more survey responses to ensure that my findings are statistically significant. Of course I will love you forever for your help <3

~Falka, 17 February 13