Behavior science in the evolving world of digital health: Considerations on anticipated opportunities and challenges

Madalina Sucala, Heather Cole-Lewis, Danielle Arigo, Megan Oser, Stephanie Goldstein, Eric B. Hekler, Michael A. Diefenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Digital health promises to increase intervention reach and effectiveness for a range of behavioral health outcomes. Behavioral scientists have a unique opportunity to infuse their expertise in all phases of a digital health intervention, from design to implementation. The aim of this study was to assess behavioral scientists' interests and needs with respect to digital health endeavors, as well as gather expert insight into the role of behavioral science in the evolution of digital health. The study used a two-phased approach: (a) a survey of behavioral scientists' current needs and interests with respect to digital health endeavors (n = 346); (b) a series of interviews with digital health stakeholders for their expert insight on the evolution of the health field (n = 15). In terms of current needs and interests, the large majority of surveyed behavioral scientists (77%) already participate in digital health projects, and from those who have not done so yet, the majority (65%) reported intending to do so in the future. In terms of the expected evolution of the digital health field, interviewed stakeholders anticipated a number of changes, from overall landscape changes through evolving models of reimbursement to more significant oversight and regulations. These findings provide a timely insight into behavioral scientists' current needs, barriers, and attitudes toward the use of technology in health care and public health. Results might also highlight the areas where behavioral scientists can leverage their expertise to both enhance digital health's potential to improve health, as well as to prevent the potential unintended consequences that can emerge from scaling the use of technology in health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-503
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational Behavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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