NSF Workshop on Future Technology to Preserve College Student Health and Foster Wellbeing (College Student Health), Northwestern University, Chicago, July 30-31, 2015.
The college years are a time when significant loss of health occurs for the most promising sector of America's emerging adults. A majority of college students say that stress impairs their academic performance, and some cope by engaging in substance abuse, unsafe sex, and self-injurious behavior. Little recognized is the fact that the college years also are a time when many students adopt unhealthy lifestyle habits that linger on into later life, leaving them susceptible to chronic disease. Addressing the problem is complicated by the fact that preservation of health falls relatively low on the list of college students’ conscious worries, overshadowed by more pressing concerns about grades, future professional success, and immediate quality of life.
Ubiquitous computing tools, including mobile technology, sensors, and social networking tools may be well-suited to engage the technology literate college population in addressing the challenge of its own health preservation. Utilizing technology that incorporates smartphones, environmental and personal sensors, text messages, and social media may, therefore, capture the interest of this age group and engage them in addressing the daily stressors that trouble them, while preventing the onset of the unhealthy behaviors for which they are at risk. On the other hand, there are daunting technical, privacy, and practical challenges associated with sensing, integrating, analyzing, and conveying data on physical and mental health.
The goal of the NSF sponsored workshop on College Student Health is twofold: (a) to discuss advances in science and technology that are needed to radically reduce some of the most pressing health risks on college campuses, and (b) to establish a test bed of college students at different universities that have dense digital data. Expected scientific and technical outcomes include new developments in HCI, ubiquitous computing (e.g., smartphones and wearables), social networking, machine learning, privacy, smart environments, and human sensing and intervention systems to solve pressing health problems on our campuses. The workshop will bring together leading researchers in computer science and in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.