Understanding the Type 1 Aging Population

User Experience Research, Community-based Research, Problem Identification
In this course of 6 months, I worked with UC San Diego's Diabetes Design Initiative on a community based project that aims to identify problems surrounding the aging population with type 1 diabetes, ideate on possible solutions and design effective products that can create impact on the community.
For the sake of keeping this case study concise, this page will cover user research and problem identification.
Timeline : March 2021- May 2021
Role: UX Researcher/ Designer
Scope : UX Research/ UX Design
Deliverables: Research Paper (In Progress), Presentation
Team: Jodie Li, Jhea Espares, Denise Tang
The process of this project mirrors that of the double diamond process, where in the initial phase, my team and I employed exploratory research through user interviews, surveys, and literature reviews to clarify the problems and define the pain points that would then lead to phase 2 covered in the 2nd case study.

Highlights of Project

  • Interviewed and user-tested 31 people with type 1 diabetes, 7 health care providers, 5 loved ones (partners of PWD)
  • Author of a research paper (in review) based on research conducted by my team
  • Designed and produced an innovative product addressing the issue between communications of health care team and patient
  • Developed product website based on user centered design
  • Presented crucial findings through a seminar consisting of professionals and highly acclaimed doctors

Design Brief

Why the Type 1 Aging Population?

With a small population of people with diabetes identifying as type 1 and with an even smaller portion of that being the aging population, there are so many issues and problem spaces that need to be addressed. In addition, the variability and diversity of type 1 experiences also adds to the complexity of the topic, which is why it's important to explore this space. 

Initial Design Brief

Understand the unique experiences of people with type 1, the challenges they face when aging, and finally, the challenges that arise when interacting with health care providers.

 This exploratory research aims to identify these pain points and concerns and from there, develop possible solutions.

Process Overview

In the course of 10 weeks, I conducted literature review, user interviews, and one design workshop in order to have a higher level of understanding of T1D. Higher level of synthesis was presented to a highly accredited professionals (doctors and specialists) in a virtual presentation at the end of this sprint.

Affinity Diagram for synthesizing interview datas.

Detailed Personas produced to summarize and visualize data from the 13 interviews conducted:

Main Findings

Understanding people with type 1 diabetes is no easy task, and the findings reveal just how complex the problem spaces surrounding the topic of type 1 and aging are. Below is a very brief summary of our findings.

1. Managing diabetes requires an individualized approach.
2. Losing control over diabetes management is a concern that is common amongst T1D.
3. Diabetes brings about cognitive burden and mental challenges.
4. Finding a support system or a community that is within physical proximity provides PWDs with reliable support and instant access.
5. T1D's inadequate experiences at healthcare institutions lead to distrust towards healthcare providers.

How might we rebuild and strengthen the cracks between the individual/t he diabetes community at large and the institutions and experts they encounter?

Research Paper is Published

View the second phase (product design) >