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Leslie Liu

Graduated: January 1, 2015

Thesis/Dissertation Title:

Appropriating Artifacts: Understanding and Designing for Patients with a Chronic Illness

From taking medications at the right time to emotionally dealing with their symptoms, patients who have a chronic illness must manage many facets of their illness. Today, patients often utilize different types of general-purpose technologies (e.g., Facebook) to manage their chronic illness. However, many of these technologies were designed with a general user in mind—a user who does not necessarily have the same needs as one who has a chronic illness.

In this dissertation, I discuss how people from three distinct populations–health vloggers with a chronic illness, older adults who have diabetes, and children with a chronic illness–reconfigure the “everyday things” that surround them. In other words, I unpack how artifacts, relationships, roles, and technologies—the things of our daily lives—are deftly reconfigured to support chronic illness management. Drawing from these discussions, I will detail how researchers and other interested parties can design technologies that leverage this appropriation of everyday things for patients’ chronic illness management. Lastly, I expand on how we can further improve current design methodologies by designing for reappropriation when designing for and with patients who have a chronic illness. By supporting appropriation in existing general technologies in addition to newly designed technologies, we can build upon and embrace the world that those with chronic illnesses have already reconfigured.

Last Known Position:

Product Design Researcher, Trunk Club


Wanda Pratt (Chair), Gillian Hayes, Julie Kientz, Sean Munson (GSR)