Ongoing Research Projects

To better understand the needs of these populations, we are interviewing individuals managing depression and facilitating design thinking activities with our participants. We seek to collaboratively envision better technology support for formal and informal care related to managing depression.


Eleanor R. Burgess, Kathryn E. Ringland, Jennifer Nicholas, Ashley A. Knapp, Jordan Eschler, David C. Mohr and Madhu C. Reddy. 2019. “I think people are powerful”: The sociality of individuals managing depression. In Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, Vol. 3, CSCW, Article 41 (November 2019). 29 pages,

[Click here for a link to the Sociality paper]

Jordan Eschler, Eleanor R. Burgess, Madhu C. Reddy, David C. Mohr. Emergent Self-Regulation Practices in Technology and Social Media Use of Individuals Living with Depression. In 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI 2020). April 25–30, 2020, Honolulu, HI, USA. ACM Press.

[Click here for a link to the Self-regulation paper]

Communication Hotspots: How Infrastructure Shapes People's Health

Informed by communication infrastructure theory (CIT) and the social capital approach to health, this study focused on the role played by communication hotspots: physical places in a community (e.g., parks, churches, or restaurants) where health information is shared between network actors. By analyzing survey data that included information about communication infrastructure, frequency of health conversations, as well as the size and diversity of respondents’ social networks, this study illustrates how communication hotspots may reduce perceived barriers to healthcare among Latinas in the greater Los Angeles area (N = 780). The results suggest that communication hotspots can influence people’s health by facilitating information-sharing activities. In addition, communication hotspots may reduce perceived barriers to healthcare by bringing together diverse network actors. We conclude by considering future health interventions and policy planning to leverage and enhance community members’ interactions at communication hotspots.

Click here for a link to the Hotspots paper

Investigation of Care Manager Challenges for Mental Health Care Delivery

Care managers, often with a background in nursing or social work, play an integral role in the process of supporting patients who have mental health care treatment needs. This research, in collaboration with CBITs, seeks to uncover specifics regarding how these professionals participate in mental healthcare delivery and how they communicate with patients, with specific focus on their perceived challenges to delivering care. Through conducting user needs analysis we will identify challenges that a technology-enabled clinical service could be help solve to support the delivery of mental health care services.

Selected Past HCI Design Projects
FireCrowd: Peer Production of Fire Fighter Safety Information

In emergency response organizations like the fire service, personnel require easy access to reliable, up-to-date safety protocols. Systems for creating and managing safety information known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) within these command and control organizations are often rigid, inaccessible, and siloed. Open collaboration systems like wikis and social computing tools have the potential to address these limitations, but have not been analyzed for intra-organizational use in emergency services. We built and evaluated a peer production system to test whether open collaboration of safety information was a feasible process in the fire service. | Read more about the design & the study here | Download the paper here

Sensi-steps: Fall Risk-Tracking Using Passive and Active Sensing in the Home

Together with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues from Northwestern and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), we took second place in the Student Design Challenge hosted by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) in November 2017. We proposed a novel tool focused on leveraging Patient Generated Data (PGD) to improve patient care called Sensi-Steps that would allow patients to take regular fall-risk assessments in the safety of their own home and then share that information with their healthcare provider. Read more here

Athletic Audio: Assistive Design for a Young Athlete who uses Hearing Aids

Cheyenne* is a youth with bi-lateral hearing loss. She wears hearing aids in both ears and can hear close to nothing when they are removed. She is extremely active but faces some issues with player-coach communication while playing soccer in windy and loud settings. We designed a solution for her through researching the problem space, prototyping a range of design solutions, and ultimately creating a mock-up of a working product for Cheyenne. | Read more about the design & the study here 


In 2017 I co-founded ShareVR. We provided game developers a plug-in third-party camera and avatar creator to enable easy sharing of VR content through videos on player's social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). (ShareVR was shut down in January of 2018.)

drfocused (now called Credentially)

In 2016 I co-founded the health technology startup drfocused. We seek to improve doctor's working lives by streamlining and centralizing non-clinical administration.


We follow a collaborative hospital and doctor-centric design process through ongoing engagement with an online community we created called the Doctors' Digital Collective, with a community of close to 1,500 physicians. During Summer 2016, we went through the Techstars London accelerator programme (check out our cohort on TechCrunch).


While I am not currently involved in day-to-day work for the startup, my time at drfocused has shaped my ongoing interest in supporting approaches to economically-viable design in the complex area of healthcare.

Designing technology for managing and coping with depression


Much of the design work in digital interventions to improve self-management for individuals coping with depression is accomplished with small research samples over limited periods of time. Also, there is often only scant evidence of more widespread adoption by individuals in the populations who may need such interventions the most. Individuals who lack convenient access to formal, structured mental health care could particularly benefit from digital interventions, for example while waiting for access to a counselor, or to support their day-to-day self-management goals. 

Northwestern University

© 2016 by Eleanor Burgess

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