Designing and conducting user studies for the Peer Mentoring project which aims to connect cancer patients on online health communities.
Peer health communities offer a broad base of personal health expertise, but uncovering mentors with shared circumstances takes time and energy that is in short supply for cancer patients and caregivers . To address this challenge, our research team collaborated with CancerConnect, an online cancer community, to identify mentorship characteristics for community members, develop social matching tools to connect peers, and assess the value of social matching for peer mentorship. Findings enhance our understanding of patients’ peer support needs and how we may meet those needs in the future.
This study resulted in a collection of quantitative and qualitative data regarding the experiences of cancer patients and caregivers. These findings were then translated into actionable recommendations for the development of matching tools in online health communities.
An academic paper, “Leveraging cues from person-generated health data for peer matching in online,” of which I am a co-author, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) in February, 2016.
My role: I was hired onto this team as a research assistant, aiding in the design and pilot testing of one user study within a larger project. After a few months, I found myself leading recruitment and interviews for the study. I also conducted the qualitative analysis at the conclusion of the study.
Our team of researchers conducted a series of mixed-method interviews to understand how patients and caregivers seek expertise and support in online health communities. Participants were presented with open ended questions about their experiences with cancer as well as asked to complete a card sorting exercise with hypothetical mentor profiles
Interview transcripts were qualitatively analyzed using affinity diagrams. Emerging themes were later tied to statistical findings from the card sorting exercise.
Findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) as well as presented in the Undergraduate Research symposium at the University of Washington.