Collecting health-related data on the smart phone: Mental models, cost of collection, and perceived benefit of feedback

Daniel Gartenberg, Ross Thornton, Mortazavi Masood, Dustin Pfannenstiel, Daniel Taylor, Raja Parasuraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We describe a mobile health application that collects data relevant to the treatment of insomnia and other sleep-related problems. The application is based on the principles from neuroergonomics, which emphasizes assessment of the brain's alertness system in everyday, naturalistic environments, and ubiquitous computing. Application benefits include the ability to incorporate both embedded data collection and retrospective manual data input - thus providing the user with a rewarding data access process. The retrospective data input feature was evaluated by comparing an older version of the retrospective editing interface with a newly developed one. The time course of user interactions was precisely measured by exporting time stamps of user interactions using the Google App Engine. We also developed models that closely fit the time course of user interactions using the Goals, Operators, Methods, and Selection rules (GOMS) modeling method. The user data and GOMS models demonstrated that the retrospective sleep tracking feature of the new interface was faster to use but that the retrospective habit tracking feature was slower. Survey results indicated that participants enjoyed using the newly developed interface more than the old interface for the assessment of both sleep and habits. These findings indicate that a mobile application should be designed not only to reduce the amount of time it takes a user to input data, but also to conform to the user's mental models of its behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-570
Number of pages10
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Capture and access
  • Insomnia
  • Mental models
  • Mobile phones
  • Neuroergonomics
  • Patient diaries
  • Sleep
  • Ubiquitous computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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