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Nudging lifestyles for better health outcomes: crowdsourced data and persuasive technologies for behavioural change

  • Authors: Brigitte Piniewski, Cristiano Codagnone, and David Osimo
  • EUR Number: 24785 EN
  • Publication date: 5/2011


For at least three decades, a tsunami of preventable poor health has continued to threaten the future prosperity of our nations. Despite its effective destructive power, our collective predictive and preventive capacity remains remarkably under-developed. This tsunami is almost entirely mediated through the passive and unintended consequences of modernisation. The malignant spread of obesity in genetically stable populations dictates that gene disposition is not a significant contributor as populations, crowds and cohorts cannot receive a new shipment of genes in only 2-3 decades. The authors elaborate on why they take a supply-side approach: advancing health care delivery cannot be expected to impact health outcomes effectively. Better care sets the stage for more care, yet it remains largely impotent in returning individuals to disease-free states. The authors urge an expedited paradigmatic shift in policy selection criteria towards using data intensive crowd-based evidence integrating insights from system thinking, networks and nudging. Collectively these will support emerging potentialities of ICT in proactive policy modelling. Against this background, the authors propose a solution that consists of: the provision of mundane yet high-yield data through light instrumentation of crowds enabling participative sensing; real time living epidemiology separating the per unit co-occurrences which are health-promoting from those which are not; nudging through persuasive technologies; serious gaming to sustain individual health behaviour change and intuitive visualisation with reliable simulation to evaluate and direct public health investments and policies in evidence-based ways.

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