The Importance of Human-centered Design in Equitable Health Promotion Initiatives

Publication Year: 2023
Contributing Organisation: University of North Carolina-Greensboro
Authors: Bruce W. Sherman, Emily Stiehl, and Rukshana Gupta
Learning Themes: Global Health

Human-centered design (HCD) is an iterative approach that focuses on engaging end-users to understand their needs, behaviors, and preferences to create products, services, or systems that are effective, efficient, and enjoyable. It prioritizes understanding, empathy and engagement with the people who will ultimately use or interact with the designed solution to genuinely meet their needs.

With ongoing end-user involvement throughout the entire offering development cycle, the HCD approach is crucial in creating products and services that are intuitive, user-friendly, and meaningful. As a result, these
HCD-derived offerings may be more efficacious and impactful in real-world settings than those developed using other approaches.

Since 1958, when John Arnold of the Stanford University Design School suggested that engineering design should be human-centered, adoption of HCD principles has spread to an increasingly diverse array of business and community initiatives, as well as organizational culture. More recently, use of HCD in healthcare service design has been expanded to facilitate identification and mitigation of factors contributing to health inequities. However, with rare exception, adoption of HCD in the well-being industry has been slow. The objective of this commentary is to provide an overview of HCD principles and processes and describe its application and potential value in health promotion program development

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