Health Information Behavior in the Context of Chronic Conditions

A chronic condition can have significant impacts on a person’s life. My work focuses on understanding how people deal with these changes – how a person’s cognitive representations of health, illness, and wellbeing change over time, the role that information plays in these changes, and what information systems and/or patient education resources might facilitate this change.

Example papers:
Chen, A. T. (2016). The relationship between health management and information behavior over time: A study of the illness journeys of people living with fibromyalgia. Journal of Medical Internet Research 18(10): e269. DOI: 10.2196/jmir.5309.
Chen, A. T., and Swaminathan, A. (2021). Factors in the building of effective patient–provider relationships in the context of fibromyalgia. Pain Medicine 21(1): 138–49. DOI: 10.1093/pm/pnz054.

Use of Social Technologies for Health

Social technologies can potentially be of great benefit to people in terms of health, by connecting people to others with similar health histories; helping people to learn about health care providers, medications, and treatments; and enabling people to read about other people’s health-related experiences. However, health consumers may also encounter challenges, such as information overload; issues with information quality; and negative reactions to information exposure. My work focuses on interactions in online communities, such as Reddit, for health-related purposes; the design of digital health interventions, particularly those with social and interactive components; and multi-faceted analyses of digital health intervention data.

Example papers:
Benson, R., Hu, M., Chen, A.T., Nag, S., Zhu, S.-H., Conway, M. (2020). Investigating the attitudes of adolescents and young adults towards JUUL: A computational study using Twitter data. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, 6(3). DOI: 10.2196/19975.
Chen, A. T., Chu, F., Teng, A. K., Han, S., Lin, S.-Y., Demiris, G., Zaslavsky, O. (2021). Promoting problem solving about health management: A mixed-methods pilot evaluation of a digital health intervention for older adults with pre-frailty and frailty. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, 7. DOI: 10.1177/2333721420985684.

Research Methods

Whenever we conduct research, we make decisions about the methods that we use. There will be paradigms, assumptions and biases that come with the methods that we choose. I am interested in the uses of different methods within and across disciplines and what they may suggest about inherent underlying philosophies and motivations, as well as in the affordances and potential issues of methods.

Example papers:
Chen, A. T. (2014). What’s in a virtual hug? – A transdisciplinary review of methods in online health discussion forum research. Library and Information Science Research, 36(2), 120-130. DOI: 10.1016/j.lisr.2013.10.007.
Chen, A. T., Wu, S., Tomasino, K. N., Lattie, E. G., & Mohr, D. C. (2019). A multi-faceted approach to characterizing user behavior and experience in a digital mental health intervention. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 94, 103187. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbi.2019.103187.

Digital Humanities

A person’s language and writing are imbued with their thoughts, views, and perspectives. My digital humanities research is focused on developing methods to study texts to better understand historical context. I am co-director of the Svoboda Diaries Project, a historical preservation project in which we also identify and study persons that are mentioned in historical corpora. Read more here.