K.W. (Kathleen) Guan

K.W. (Kathleen) Guan


Chronic health conditions are leading causes of death globally (over 70%) and encompass severe conditions such as cancer, stroke, diabetes, and depression. Risk factors for chronic diseases are complex and multifaceted, but their onset commonly occur in adolescence — a pivotal developmental stage for establishing healthy behaviours and lifestyle habits across the lifespan. To mitigate risk factors, facilitate preventative programming, and reduce the global burden of chronic diseases, Kathleen's research focuses on co-designing adaptive digital interventions (e.g., health chatbots, mobile apps) for health behaviour change with adolescents of diverse backgrounds. This work critically investigates how personalised health technology can precisely adjust to individual needs and contexts in real-time to optimize engagement and efficacy. It is informed by principles of precision medicine, child development, participatory design, health equity, and implementation science.

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Academic background

Kathleen Guan is a PhD candidate in Digital Health supervised by Dr. Caroline Figueroa and Dr.ir. Mark de Reuver at the Faculty of Technology, Policy, and Management. Her position is funded through 4TU Federation's High Tech for a Sustainable Future programme. Kathleen's research has been featured in diverse outlets such as CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, and Nielsen Norman Group and various medical journals.

Kathleen's research background is interdisciplinary, having studied policy as an undergraduate at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA) before pivoting to health and obtaining her Master of Research in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology from University College London (UK). For her master's thesis in family mental health, Kathleen undertook a year-long research placement at Yale School of Medicine (New Haven, USA) and was awarded the cohort's outstanding dissertation prize. Kathleen has also collaborated extensively with colleagues at the Qatar Computing Research Institute to research applications of personas in user-centered design. Further, Kathleen trained in public health at Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, USA) and the World Health Organization.

Additionally, Kathleen has worked for several years in the digital health industry, consulting on patient experience research for early-stage start-ups across a range of technologies, including telemedicine, mobile health applications, and virtual reality. 

In addition to research, Kathleen serves as a coach/guest instructor and master's thesis mentor in health systems management and technology service design.

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