Course Syllabus

Consumer Health and Informatics

Tuesday/Thursday 2-3:20pm

South Campus Center 308



Annie T. Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor

Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education

South Lake Union C238


Course Description:

This course is intended to provide a general introduction to consumer health informatics (CHI). The course will cover theories of health behavior and information behavior; key concepts and terminology; and main application domains. First, this course will present an overview of theories that are relevant to health behavior change and health information behavior, and explore how they might be applied to promote changes in health behavior and/or explain health consumers’ behaviors. The course will also introduce key issues such as health literacy, patient-centered communication, patient empowerment, patient-generated data, participation, and privacy. Lastly, the course will cover CHI applications in major application domains including personal health records, m-Health, and tele-health.


Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

* Explain what consumer health informatics is.

* Describe how theory can be used to facilitate changes in health behavior and/or promote health, and be able to explain how particular theories might be applied to address a given health issue.

* Identify key issues in consumer health informatics and explain different approaches/perspectives towards these issues.

* Identify main application domains and provide examples of current research and application/tool development in these domains.

* Be able to read, understand and evaluate research in consumer health informatics.


Course Materials:

This course will employ a textbook as well as readings from current research literature. The textbook is available online through UW Libraries.

Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., & Viswanath, K. (Eds.). (2008). Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (link)


Course Expectations:

This is an interactive, hybrid lecture and seminar-style course. I hope that the class will be an opportunity for all of us to learn about, and learn more, about consumer health informatics. Participating actively will enrich your own as well as others’ exploration of CHI-related topics.

In the beginning, we will cover theories from multiple disciplines to serve as a foundation for us to consider work in consumer health informatics. Later, we will move on to consider specific issues in CHI, as well as major application domains. Our aim will be to continue to apply the knowledge in the earlier weeks to later weeks in the quarter. Consider whether the material we are reading could be considered through the lens of different theories or concepts that we learn.

Your attendance and participation are critical to your success in this class. Please read the readings that have been assigned for each class session prior to coming to class and be ready to discuss them. You may want to think about questions that you need clarification on, issues that you would like to discuss with your classmates, and how you might be able to apply the material to your interests/work. This will ensure that you comprehend and retain the material. If you have any problems understanding anything that we cover, I encourage you to raise those questions or approach me outside of class.

Students are expected to come to class and arrive on time. Please let me know if you are not going to be in class. Repeated absences or tardiness will affect your participation grade. You are welcome to use laptops for class-related activities.


Assignment Submission:

Please submit assignments as PDF files via Canvas. Please name each file that you submit using the following convention: LastName_AssignmentName, and ensure that your name appears in the document. For example, if your name were John Smith, you might turn in an ethnography assignment, “Smith_Ethnography.pdf”. Assignments should be double-spaced in a standard 12-point font.

Please submit assignments by 9 a.m. on the due dates indicated for each on the syllabus. Late assignments will be penalized by 5% for each day they are late. Please discuss with me in advance if you will have a problem submitting an assignment on the day it is due.


Academic Integrity

I encourage you to discuss class material with other students, though the work that you submit should be your own individual work, in the case of an individual assignment; and the work of you and your partner, in the case of a paired assignment.

If you use material from other sources, please make sure that you give appropriate credit. Any citation format is fine, as long as it is consistent, but be prepared to direct me to a resource that explains the format you use if I don't recognize it. If you need clarification on how to cite sources appropriately, please feel free to come talk to me.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a useful resource on academic writing in general: For more information about academic responsibilities in general, please visit


Syllabus Changes

The syllabus may be revised throughout the quarter. When there is a revision, I will make an announcement either in class or through a Canvas announcement. The current version will be available on Canvas.



Dates Topic
9/29 Consumer Health and Informatics: Course Overview
10/4,6 Theories of Information Behavior and Health Behavior I
10/11,13 Theories of Health Behavior II
10/18,20 Health Disparities and Health Literacy
Guest lecture: Uba Backonja, Oct. 18
No class Thursday, Oct. 20th.  Participate in discussion forum!
10/25,27 Patient-Centered Health Communication
No class Tuesday, Oct. 25th.  Participate in discussion forum!
Guest lecture: Sara Kim, Oct. 27
11/1,3 Theories of Health Behavior III
11/8,10 Patient Empowerment and Activation, and Patient-Driven Health Care Models
11/15,17 Social Uses of Health Information and Health-Related Social Media Use
11/22,24 Personal Health Records, Clinical Decision Support and Shared Decision Making
No class Thursday, Nov. 24th.  Thanksgiving!
11/29, 12/1 M-Health
12/6,8 Telehealth
Final Presentations I, Dec. 8th
12/13 Final Presentations II



Course Summary:

Date Details