OurHealth: A Social Technology Concept to Promote Healthy Behaviors in Northwestern Minnesota

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Association for Computing Machinery
When compared to urban areas, the rural population experiences several challenges to engage in healthy living, such as a lack of exercise facilities and mental health education programs. Although many of their existing challenges are related to the social determinants of health, still designing sociotechnical systems for rural areas is important to support their ongoing efforts to address disparities in access to innovative technology solutions. In this paper, we propose the OurHealth social application concept to encourage healthy living for rural communities. OurHealth provides a space for social interaction and shared accountability, and suggests location-based wellness activities according to the users’ needs. We conducted a user study to learn about individuals’ current challenges and needs on healthy living, and assess the system’s usability and feasibility. Our findings unpack the ways in which the target population envision the technology to be effective, how we could provide them with accessible activities to engage in healthy living, and potential strategies to increase support and create awareness surrounding mental health.