Lorraine Buis, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of family medicine and the U-M School of Information, has been appointed editor of JMIR mHealth uHealth, part of the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) family of journals leading in eHealth research publishing.
As a health services researcher, Buis has a strong social science background and has trained in areas of psychology, human-computer interaction, information studies, and mass media. She conducts research in the area of mobile health for chronic disease self-management, with a particular emphasis on consumer-facing technologies to improve hypertension and diabetes management, often in underserved communities. Buis has a long history of working on externally funded research to develop, implement, and evaluate mobile interventions for lifestyle and behavior change. As a skilled builder of multidisciplinary teams, Dr Buis enjoys bringing together teams from diverse backgrounds to work together to improve human health and advance the state of the science for digital health. Dr Buis has been involved with JMIR Publications for nearly 20 years, starting as a reader, author, and reviewer, and serving as a Section Editor for the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) since 2016.
Dr Buis answered a few questions about her background and research experience in the field of mHealth and uHealth.
What intrigues you most about your new role with JMU?
I am very excited to have an opportunity to help shape the dissemination of digital health research. To be at the forefront of research in this field is an honor and a privilege.
Could you share a little about your background in research?
I’ve been actively engaged in research for 20 years, starting as a graduate student. Although I began my research career in the world of clinical telemedicine, I’ve always been passionate about helping individuals use technologies they’ve already adopted into their daily life to better manage their own health. With the incredible convergence of technologies on our mobile devices that we’ve witnessed over the last 15 years, the potential of our personal cell phones and mobile devices is quite powerful. I’ve spent much of my research career to date studying how we can leverage these devices for chronic disease self-management, particularly related to lifestyle and behavior change interventions for managing hypertension and diabetes.
What is the major focus of your research currently?
To date, I’ve conducted a number of trials that are focused on demonstrating the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of mobile interventions for chronic disease self-management, particularly related to underserved populations that traditionally experience high rates of health disparities. However, I’d say that my work is starting to shift away from these types of demonstration projects in favor of more implementation-focused work. We know that digital health interventions can be useful, but we are learning about how we can efficiently incorporate them into routine clinical practice. As my research portfolio continues to grow, I see that my interests are definitely moving in that direction. The shared vision of the future of digital health is fairly clear, but how we get there is not well understood.
In your career thus far, what do you feel were your most significant research challenges and your greatest research accomplishments?
My most significant research challenges have been associated with keeping up with the pace of technological advancement. Mobile devices come and go from the marketplace at a pace that surpasses the timeline to obtain funding, build interventions, conduct high-quality trials, and disseminate the results. In terms of accomplishments, through the work I’ve done with my multidisciplinary teams, it’s been a joy to see direct evidence that we’ve helped individuals learn how to better manage their chronic diseases. To hear our research participants talk about being able to reduce their medications, lose weight, become more physically active, and get their blood pressure, HbA1c, or other health outcomes under control has been incredibly rewarding. We always hope that the results from our studies will have a lasting impact as we build upon previous work, but to know that our work has had a direct impact on hundreds of people and their families? That’s priceless.
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