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Development and Evaluation of Novel Mobile Phone and Location-based Systems to Promote Resilience and Healthy Lifestyles among College Students

Funding Source

Dartmouth College Office of the Provost Seed Funding

Project Period

6/1/16 - 12/31/16

Principal Investigator

Sarah Lord, PhD

Other Project Staff

Elizabeth Carpenter-Song, PhD (Co-PI); Andrew Campbell, PhD (Co-PI); Lorie Loeb (Co-PI); Sunny Kim, PhD (Research Associate/Project Coordinator)


Dartmouth College Health Services: Ann Bracken, MD; Virginia Brack, MD; The Wellness Center (Student Health Promotion and Wellness): Caitlin Barthelmes, MPH

Project Summary

College students rank stress and sleep as the top two factors that negatively impact academic performance. High stress and poor sleep are also associated with impaired decision making and exacerbation of illnesses. In this project, we will develop, implement and evaluate an innovative interactive digital health communication initiative on the Dartmouth College campus that integrates behavioral science, mobile technology, engaging digital content, and state-of-the-art location-based technologies to: 1) build awareness about the causes and consequences of stress and poor sleep, 2) foster stress management skills and healthy lifestyle choices among students, and 3) promote knowledge about, and use of, campus support resources.  Our goal is to bring effective information about stress and healthy lifestyles to students in ways that are engaging and fun, useful, and accessible where and when students need it.

HealthMatters brings together faculty and students from CTBH, the Department of Computer Science and the Digital Arts, Leadership and Innovation Lab, Anthropology, Dartmouth College Health Services, Student Health Promotion, and the broader Dartmouth student community. A Student Advisory Board and participatory approach will ensure that students are involved in all aspects of the design, development, implementation and evaluation of the digital health communication system. Early formative research with students (and conducted by students) will determine the content, approach, and optimal technologies for the initiative. Students will test the system throughout the development process.  HealthMatters will be evaluated in a limited campus deployment with 40 students using qualitative and qualitative methods to assess technical feasibility and acceptance by students.

Public Health Relevance

This cross-disciplinary project aligns with Moving Dartmouth Forward by promoting attitudes and skills for healthy lifestyle choices by students. If successful, this project will be a valuable resource to students, offer a campus-based technology infrastructure and collaborative framework for other health initiatives, and serve as a foundation for future funding initiatives to evaluate the digital health communication system more broadly for impact on student outcomes (i.e., academic performance, well-being, campus resource utilization.)