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Addressing Inequalities in Women’s Access to and Experience of Care during Pregnancy through Technology

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  • Full or part time
    Dr N Verdezoto Dias
    Dr C Fuentes
    Dr N Mackintosh
    Dr Qian (Sarah) Gong
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Project Highlights:
Unpack the (technologically mediated and unmediated) practices and everyday experiences of women living in complex social circumstances in the UK
• Examine the suitability of existing theoretical frameworks for technology design of health interventions to propose a conceptual framework for designing socio-technical interventions that account for women’s lived experiences
• Co-design and evaluate socio-technical prototypes with women, family members and healthcare professionals by exploring creative scenarios using immersive and interactive technologies.

Pregnant women and their partners engage in self-care by negotiating and shaping boundaries (e.g., objects, activities, places) in everyday life. What happens during pregnancy and women’s experiences of birth and the postnatal period has profound long-term consequences for parents and their social network. Women often struggle to self- diagnose (distinguish between ‘normal’ pregnancy changes and complications), and self- triage (decide whether to seek help, where and how urgently) during pregnancy. When seeking help from healthcare professionals, they can find it difficult to engage with, navigate and negotiate access to care, making it difficult to actively
engage in care decisions. Women who live socially complex lives (e.g. young and single mothers, refugees, ethnic minority groups) are amongst those who are particular at risk of delayed access and uptake of services, increasing the chance of poor maternal outcomes.

Digital technologies are creating opportunities to support women, relatives and healthcare professionals by facilitating access to information, remote communication, monitoring of health conditions, recreating life experiences (e.g., through virtual worlds), helping to build self-confidence and sharing experiences, information and support with others. There is a lack of attention in understanding and designing
technology to support the everyday experience of pregnant women living in complex social circumstances.

To get an in-depth understanding of the lived experiences of pregnant women living in complex social circumstances and co-design socio-technical prototypes that can enable greater agency and engagement in self-care. The project is informed by theoretical frameworks for health interventions and a narrative review conducted by the supervisors on pregnant women’s use of technologies.

Research Questions
1. How do women living in complex social circumstances experience and practically cope with their everyday care needs and safety concerns during pregnancy?
a. What are their technologically mediated and unmediated care practices?
2. What opportunities arise for technology to address the identified socio-cultural challenges?
3. How does technology shape the women and partner’s socio-cultural practices (intended and unintended consequences)?

Keywords: Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing

Indicative Student Profile:
• Research interests in one or more of the following areas: digital health, computer-supported cooperative work, human-computer interaction, user experience design, science and technology studies.
• Prior Experience in the healthcare, patients self-care and/or public health context
• Prototyping experience with mHealth, wearables, physical computing, and/or DoItYourself (DIY) for Health and Wellbeing initiatives.
• Prior Experience planning, conducting and documenting field-based qualitative research studies.
• Prior Experience planning and facilitating design workshops and activities and synthesizing the insights through visual forms e.g., scenarios, etc.
• Open to work with a multidisciplinary team of researchers.

Contact for information on the project: [Email Address Removed]

A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master’s degree, in computing or a related subject subject (e.g., Human- Computer Interaction, Design, Media & Communication, Digital Humanities & Health Informatics, etc) For this project, you should have programming and prototyping skills (e.g., mHealth, wearables, physical computing, context-aware systems, DIY, etc.) and some experience planning, conducting and documenting field-based qualitative research studies and facilitating design workshops and activities and synthesizing the insights through visual forms e.g., scenarios, etc.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component.


Applicants should apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science and Informatics with a start date of October 2020.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select ’I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from ’Addressing Inequalities in Women’s Access to and Experience of Care during Pregnancy through Technology’.

Funding Notes

Note: Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics is currently offering funding, application deadline: 29 February 2020, start date 1 October 2020.
Overseas applicants must self-fund the difference between Home/EU and Overseas fees.


• Mackintosh, N., Verdezoto, N., Gong, Q. “‘DEPAC’: Digital enablement, promise and uncertainty in maternity care.” UoL Tiger Team, Research and Enterprise Division, 2017-18. sci/research-projects-1/2018depac
• Bagalkot, N., Verdezoto, N., Lewis, M., Griffiths, P., Harrington, D., Mackintosh, N., & Noronha, J. A. (2018, December). Towards enhancing
everyday pregnancy care: Reflections from community stakeholders in South India. In Proceedings of the 9th Indian Conference on Human Computer Interaction (pp. 71-74).
• Aldoory, L., Roberts, E. B., Bushar, J., & Assini-Meytin, L. C. (2018). Exploring the Use of Theory in a National Text Message Campaign: Addressing Problem Recognition and Constraint Recognition for Publics of Pregnant Women. Health communication, 33(1), 41-48. DOI:
• Aarhus, R., & Ballegaard, S. A. (2010). Negotiating boundaries: managing disease at home. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1223-1232). ACM. DOI:
• Mackintosh, N., Rance, S., Carter, W., & Sandall, J. (2017). Working for patient safety: a qualitative study of women’s help-seeking during acute perinatal events. BMC pregnancy and childbirth, 17(1), 232. DOI:
• Grönvall, E., & Verdezoto, N. Beyond self-monitoring: understanding nonfunctional aspects of home-based healthcare technology. In Proceedings of the 2013 ACM international joint conference on Pervasive and ubiquitous computing (pp. 587-596). ACM. DOI:
• Mackintosh, N., Sandall, J., Collison, C., Carter, W., & Harris, J. (2018). Employing the arts for knowledge production and translation: Visualizing new possibilities for women speaking up about safety concerns in maternity. Health Expectations, 21(3), 647-658. DOI:
• Peyton, T., Poole, E., Reddy, M., Kraschnewski, J., & Chuang, C. (2014). Every pregnancy is different: designing mHealth for the pregnancy ecology. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Designing interactive systems (pp. 577-586). ACM. DOI: https://doi.or/10.1145/2598510.2598572
• Smith, W., Wadley, G., Daly, O., Webb, M., Hughson, J., Hajek, J., ... & Story, D. (2017). Designing an app for pregnancy care for a culturally and linguistically diverse community. In Proceedings of the 29th Australian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction(pp. 337-346). ACM. DOI:

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 13.73

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