Involving Children in the Design of Online Peer Support for Children with Cancer

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Sektionen för datavetenskap och kommunikation

Abstract: Information Technology (IT) in health services has become increasingly important for people's wellbeing. The nature of design of these technologies is complex – even more so when the context is of a sensitive nature, such as the user's health. Furthermore, when the users are children, several additional difficulties surface. Apart from the design context being sensitive, children have cognitive and communicational limitations that make any design method employed require adaptations. This thesis is conducted within the research project Child Health Interactive Peer Support (CHIPS) at Halmstad University. The project aims at developing Online Peer Support (OPS) for advancing the wellbeing of children who have or have had cancer. The project thus presents a unique design situation, and the aim of this thesis is to answer the question: How can children participate in the design of Online Peer Support for children with cancer? In order to answer this question, a literature review was performed to identify common properties of design methods with children, children were involved in the design of OPS for children with cancer, and the lessons learned from the empirical case were discussed. The properties of design methods with children were organised into three categories and later supplemented with properties of methods for performing research in a sensitive context. The empirical material was made up of six design workshops with two groups of children who were, or had previously been treated for cancer. From the design workshops and the subsequent discussions several lessons were learned, in addition to the result from the literature review, about how children can be involved in the design of OPS for children with cancer. Based on this, seven suggestions were made for adapting methods to suit design with children in a sensitive context.

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