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Developing digital applications for tailored communication in orthopaedics using a Research through Design approach

  • Groeneveld, Bob1
  • Melles, Marijke1
  • Vehmeijer, Stephan2
  • Mathijssen, Nina2
  • Dekkers, Tessa1
  • Goossens, Richard1
  • 1 Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • 2 Reinier de Graaf Hospital, The Netherlands
Published Article
Digital Health
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Jan 24, 2019
DOI: 10.1177/2055207618824919
PMID: 30719322
PMCID: PMC6348501
PubMed Central


Objective Tailored communication and information provision is expected to contribute to patient-centred care (PCC) in total hip arthroplasty (THA). In previous research, three subgroups of THA patients were identified that are similar in their clinical, psychological and communication characteristics. Preliminary subgroup-specific design guidelines were also formulated. Using these insights as a starting point, a theoretical framework was developed for tailored information provision and communication using digital applications. This study aims to refine the framework as well as subgroup-specific design guidelines for digital applications. Methods This study uses a Research through Design (RtD) approach, generating insights both from the development and evaluation of prototypes in the early design stage. Paper-based prototypes will be made for each subgroup and evaluated with patients and care providers. Semi-structured interviews are held with participants exploring their experiences with the prototype. A quasi-experiment with a non-random control cohort is used to validate the qualitative findings. Post-surgery consultations with and without prototype are videotaped and scored using a structured instrument. Results A design diary will be used to summarize design decisions and considerations. Feedback from participants is analysed inductively. Adaptations in subgroup-specific guidelines will be based on comparison of verbal feedback and descriptive statistics from consultations with and without prototype. Conclusions Although mixed-method feasibility studies of digital health interventions are common, this protocol also considers the utility of the early design process and the designer’s perspective for realizing PCC and tailored care.

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