Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 880611-M-6
Research in Digital Health Communication
Course info
Course module880611-M-6
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryMA (Master)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences; TSH: Commun. and Inform. Sciences; TSH: Department Communication and Cognition;
Is part of
M Linguistics and Communication Sciences (research)
Convenant TSH
dr. N. Bol
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksCaution: this information is subject to change
Registration openfrom 20/01/2021 up to and including 20/08/2021
After successfully completing the course, the student is able to
  • Explain the main theories in the field of digital health communication and application design and employ these in the development of a novel digital health application;
  • Understand the main principles in (health) technology adoption and apply these to the development of a digital health communication application;
  • Critically evaluate and synthesize recent literature on the effectiveness of digital health communication and formulate evidence-based design recommendations;
  • Be able to communicate design ideas effectively by creating prototypes of digital health applications;
  • Describe the main methods used in evaluation (adherence and effectiveness of digital health applications) and conceive an evaluation study.
  • Propose an analysis plan to conduct research into the effects of digital health applications on (health) outcomes
Digital technologies are constantly evolving and finding new applications in health communication, for instance for stimulating preventive behaviors (e.g., healthy eating, physical activity) or supporting disease-related contexts (e.g., self-management, doctor-patient communication). Health technology can be implemented in a wide range of hardware and software solutions, including (but not limited to) websites, smartphone applications (mHealth), wearable devices and sensors, virtual reality, and robotics. Novel technologies enable personalization, interaction and an immediacy of feedback that was difficult or impossible with traditional forms of health communication. In the past decade, there has been a steep increase in the number of digital health applications. Digital technologies should not only be effective in targeting the specific outcome that it was designed for (e.g., behavior change, knowledge improvement), but should also be usable and engaging in order to be adopted by the intended target group.
In this course, you will learn about the main theories, technologies, and methods that are relevant for design, adoption, and effects of (persuasive) digital health communication. Topics that will be discussed include characteristics of users, affordances and design of technology, and the effects of digital technologies on (health) outcomes. Topics will be illustrated with recent examples of implementations of health communication technology, such as games, mobile health apps, and virtual agents. In the assignments of this course, you will apply the knowledge to design and evaluate a theory- and evidence-based digital health application.

The course consists of two sessions per week, of which one is focused on theory (T-lectures) and one is focused on development (D-lectures). Attendance to the D-lectures and guest lectures is obligatory. The course is taught in English. Examination takes place based on an individual assignment (20%), a group assignment (40%) and a written exam (40%). In the individual assignment, an existing digital health application will be analyzed using relevant theoretical models, and a research design will be proposed to empirically assess the effects of this existing digital health application. In the group project, a novel implementation (prototype) of digital health application for a specific problem in the health domain will be developed.
Connection to the labor market
The knowledge acquired during this course is transferable to the labor market. After this course, students will be equipped with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to analyze existing digital health applications, to create convincing prototypes of novel digital health applications, and to systematically evaluate the effectiveness in terms of adoption and adherence and the (un)intended effects of digital health communication.

Contact person L.N. van der Laan
Timetable information
Research in Digital Health Communication
Required materials
A few chapters of the following book are used in the course. The ebook is available for free through the UvT library
Title:eHealth Research, Theory and Development: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach
Author:Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen (Editor), Saskia M. Kelders (Editor), Hanneke Kip (Editor), Robbert Sanderman (Editor)
To be announced
A few recent scientific papers will be used in the course. These will be announced via Canvas.
Recommended materials
Written exam

Paper individual assignment

Paper group assignment

Kies de Nederlandse taal