An Exploration of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to Facilitate the Creation of Internet Interventions

  • Claire Jones

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Unsurprisingly the National Health Service (NHS) has harnessed the prolific growth in Internet access to alleviate the increasing burden incurred due to rising healthcare costs. Healthcare interventions focus on the promotion of good behaviours; prevention of bad behaviours; provision of support for shared decision making; increasing knowledge and improving monitoring.

    Healthcare researchers typically rely on professional software developers in the creation of Internet interventions. Although varying in nomenclature Internet interventions typically consist of the same underlying components, such as navigation, logic and response capture. The LifeGuide Authoring Tool provides a potential solution to reduce this reliance of researchers on software developers in the creation of interventions. However the logic creation command line interface provided by LifeGuide is identified as a potential barrier for adoption, by nonprogrammers, due to their lack of experience with the strict programming style syntax it requires.

    Through the adoption of user-centred design techniques; early and continuous user involvement; rapid prototyping and interface design principles, a Graphical User Interface (GUI) was developed, with the potential to lower this barrier for researchers with no previous programming experience. A jigsaw metaphor was adopted in the design of the interface, utilising templates and pre-populated fields, with the aim of reducing errors and lowering the cognitive load experienced by users.

    A task-based evaluation compared the existing LifeGuide interface, with the new GUI, in the creation of commonly used logic. Higher results were reported over the five main usability measures: effectiveness; engagement; efficiency; ease of learning and error tolerability in favour of the GUI, in the creation of intervention logic.

    Continuing requests to the author to develop healthcare Internet Interventions supports the research, that there is still a heavy reliance of researchers on software developers. A further application for this approach was identified in the development of a tool to support healthcare researchers in the creation of mobile phone messaging interventions.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorIan Ricketts (Supervisor) & Shaun Treweek (Supervisor)


    • Internet Interventions
    • Healthcare Informatics
    • User centred design

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