Chia-Hua Yu


August 2010

Document Type


Degree Name



Dept. of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology


Oregon Health & Science University


Background The rising cost of health care has motivated the exploration of different models of care. One such model is the health coaching paradigm. Focusing on health maintenance behaviors, health coaches may provide more attentive and timely help at lower cost than traditional primary care models. Health coaches can be supported by internet technologies, allowing the coach to communicate with more participants than would be possible with in-person appointments. The Oregon Center for Aging and Technology Living Lab combines the health coach approach with information technology to deliver timely coaching interventions among an elderly population to promote cognitive health. The current study examines the usability of a client-facing interface using remote usability methods. An additional goal is to examine the feasibility of remote usability methods among an elderly population as well as to evaluate the usability of the interface. Methods This study utilizes the think aloud protocol, a discount usability technique. Participants were recruited from the Living Lab Participants pool. Participants were contacted via the Skype internet telephone application, and then transferred to a web conference application for the usability testing. Participants were guided through five tasks, during which they were asked to verbalize their thoughts while using the system. The usability test session was recorded on computer using screen capture software and analyzed after the test session. Results The users had considerable difficulty completing the usability tasks, implying usability issues. In addition, the think aloud protocol proved to be a challenging task. The combination of a new computer interface and a novel task may have hindered task completion. Discussion The participants exhibited a tentative interaction style, as several subjects expressed some discomfort in using computers. This computer-related anxiety may have affected their ability to complete tasks, as some degree of exploratory behavior is required to complete the tasks. Contributing to the lack of task completion is the visual complexity of some of the screens. Several design enhancements are suggested to increase the usability of the system.




School of Medicine



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