Patient Work Personas of Type 2 Diabetes—A Data-Driven Approach to Persona Development and Validation

N Galliford, K Yin, Ann Blandford, J Jung, AYS Lau
in Frontiers in Digital Health, Journal article


Introduction: Many have argued that a "one-size-fits-all" approach to designing digital health is not optimal and that personalisation is essential to achieve targeted outcomes. Yet, most digital health practitioners struggle to identify which design aspect require personalisation. Personas are commonly used to communicate patient needs in consumer-oriented digital health design, however there is often a lack of reproducible clarity on development process and few attempts to assess their accuracy against the targeted population. In this study, we present a transparent approach to designing and validating personas, as well as identifying aspects of "patient work," defined as the combined total of work tasks required to manage one's health and the contextual factors influencing such tasks, that are sensitive to an individual's context and may require personalisation. Methods: A data-driven approach was used to develop and validate personas for people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), focusing on patient work. Eight different personas of T2DM patient work were constructed based physical activity, dietary control and contextual influences of 26 elderly Australian participants (median age = 72 years) via wearable camera footage, interviews, and self-reported diaries. These personas were validated for accuracy and perceived usefulness for design, both by the original participants and a younger (median age bracket = 45-54 years) independent online cohort f 131 T2DM patients from the United Kingdom and the United States. Results: Both the original participants and the independent online cohort reported the personas to be accurate representations of their patient work routines. For the independent online cohort, 74% (97/131) indicated personas stratified to their levels of exercise and diet control were similar to their patient work routines. Findings from both cohorts highlight aspects that may require personalisation include daily routine, use of time, and social context. Conclusion: Personas made for a specific purpose can be very accurate if developed from real-life data. Our personas retained their accuracy even when tested against an independent cohort, demonstrating their generalisability. Our data-driven approach clarified the often non-transparent process of persona development and validation, suggesting it is possible to systematically identify whether persona components are accurate or. and which aspects require more personalisation and tailoring.