A University of Colorado Research Study

Designing Self-Tracking Tools that Better Communicate, Represent, and Understand Bipolar Disorder

What is this study? Recently, there has been a significant increase in personal data tools available for tracking health, productivity, and participation in social networks. The personal data practices enabled by these tools, often referred to as the “Quantified Self” movement, encompass a range of tracking activities associated with self-knowledge, behavior change, and health management. Our research hopes to determine the social and technical requirements necessary to develop a personal informatics system (a smartphone app, for example,) that supports individuals facing bipolar disorder (BD), and allows them to collectively engage with their communities.

Because individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder often also experience stigma, we hope to better understand stigmatizing attitudes about mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, and how these attitudes affect experiences and shape identities. We’re also interested in how self tracking might mediate those experiences. In order to do this, we’re putting together a series of focus groups where we hope to facilitate productive conversations about bipolar experiences and how we can better communicate, understand and represent them.


A research team at the University of Colorado is interested in the experiences of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, as well as those of their close friends and family. They are putting together focus groups with the goal of having productive conversations about bipolar disorder and the way individuals use self-tracking processes to document this experience. They hope this work will provide insight regarding the influence of stigma on identity formation and self-tracking practices of individuals facing bipolar disorder. Feedback given in the focus group setting will be instrumental to the development of a tool (e.g., a smartphone app) that they hope will better communicate and represent the experience of bipolar disorder.

Individuals who choose to take part in this research study will be assigned to a focus group. It is expected that there will be between 4-6 individuals in every focus group and that a total of 24-42 people will be in this research study. They are offering $10 per hour for participating in this research study. The focus group is expected to last between 90 and 120 minutes.

If you are interested in participating in this study, or have further questions, please contact Tara Walker and Stephen Voida at [email protected]. You can also get more information on the website: http://tmilab.colorado.edu/projects/bipolar-study. Thank you!