Course Syllabus

Consumer Health and Informatics

Tuesday/Thursday 2-3:20pm

Autumn 2021




Annie T. Chen, PhD

Associate Professor

Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education


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.). (2015). Health Behavior: Theory, Research, and Practice (5th 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 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 attend class and arrive on time. Please let me know if you are not going to be able to attend 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. Assignments should be single-spaced in a standard 12-point font.

Please submit assignments on the due dates/times indicated for each assignment. Late assignments will be penalized by 10% 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 group members, in the case of a group 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


Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


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
9/30 Consumer Health and Informatics: Course Overview
10/5,7 Theories of Information Behavior and Health Behavior I
10/12,14 Theories of Health Behavior II
10/19,21 Theories of Health Behavior III
Lab activities I.
10/26,28 Behavioral Economics
Lab activities II.
11/2,4 Social Determinants, Health Literacy, and Information Quality
Note that the 11/2 class session is remote.
Lab activities III.
11/9,11 Patient-Centered Communication and Technology Acceptance
No class Thursday, Nov. 11th. Veterans Day.
11/16,18 Social Uses of Information and Patient Engagement in Health Care
11/23 Ethical Implementation of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing
11/23 Guest lecture: Taryn O. Hall, PhD
No class Thursday, Nov. 25th.  Thanksgiving!
11/30,12/2 MHealth + Addressing Health Disparities with Informatics Applications
12/2 Guest lecture: Uba Backonja, PhD
12/7,9 Telehealth
Final Presentations, Dec. 9th



Course Summary:

Date Details Due