Designing for Breast Cancer Survivors’ Empowerment: Integration of Technology for Self-management Promotion through Participatory Design

Designing for Breast Cancer Survivors’ Empowerment: Integration of Technology for Self-management Promotion through Participatory Design

Sana Behnam
MFA Design Research and Development, 2021

Project Description:
Breast cancer is the most common cancer type in women worldwide. In the USA, there are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors that are still struggling with the long term effects and challenges of breast cancer (WCRF International 2018). Even after finishing cancer treatments, cancer survivors need to actively participate in the self-care and self-management process to improve their quality of life and minimize the risk of recurrence or late diagnosis. This exploratory research aims to empower breast cancer survivors by designing personalized self-care and self-management tools using design methodologies, empowerment factors, and technology. The first step of this research was building insight into the main factors of empowerment, self-care and self-management, available technologies, current pain-assessment tools, and self-care options through background studies. Next, this research investigated the main challenges of breast cancer survivors along different stages of the cancer survivorship journey by engaging survivors in the research and design process. To achieve this goal, the study took advantage of participatory design and design exploration. In order to develop an in-depth understanding of breast cancer survivors’ main needs, this research took advantage of two parallel tracks, the “Technology Exploration Track” and the “Primary Research Track”. Going back and forth between these two tracks enabled the integration of design making with design research to achieve a more unique process for extracting users’ specific needs and designing personalized solutions. Seven breast cancer survivors participated in this study and shared their survivorship stories along with diagnosis, treatment, and post-treatment phases, using the workbook, interviews, and participatory design sessions. The findings of this study reveal the most important factors in contributing to the empowerment and wellbeing of participants and their priorities along their journey. Furthermore, the similarities and differences in participants' needs through each phase of their journey (diagnosis, treatment, survivorship) and their preferred technologies were addressed through this thesis research. These findings were presented in a concept wireframe design of an application for self-check and self-care that is compatible with phone, iPad, and computer.


Committee Members:
Elizabeth Sanders, Matt Lewis, Yvette Shen

Breast Cancer Survivors, Empowerment, Technology and Health, Self-Management, Participatory Design, Design Research

Sana Beham project image 3
Sana Beham project image 2
Sana Beham project image 1