Chiara Wilke

Chiara Wilke received her degree in 2020 and then performed post graduate work last year in Germany.  She has returned to perform a PhD on a collaborative project funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) entitled, “Developing and assessing a digital health app that implements the Situated Assessment Method to decrease distress and increase eustress.”  Her supervisors are Lawrence Barsalou from the University of Glasgow (primary), Aleksandar Matic from Koa Health (secondary), and Esther Papies from University of Glasgow (secondary).

Project abstract.  This project will build and evaluate a health app to help individuals learn about and regulate life stress. In previous work, we developed a new instrument for measuring an individual’s stress, the Situated Assessment Method (SAM2). Unlike other instruments that establish an overall measure of an individual’s stress level, SAM2 provides rich information about associated stress mechanisms. SAM2 is also novel in assessing both negative stress (distress) and positive stress (eustress), and typically explains 70-80% of the variance in distress and eustress, while establishing insight into associated stress mechanisms. Interestingly and significantly, performing the SAM2 assessment procedure across multiple timepoints induces learning about distress and eustress. Individuals increasingly understand how the distress and eustress they experience is related to specific stress mechanisms. In a series of longitudinal studies, we will build and assess a health app that implements the SAM2 procedure. Of particular interest is building an effective digital tool that promotes learning about distress and eustress to decrease distress and increase eustress (shifting the affect associated with stress from negative to positive). Besides collecting data that tracks distress and eustress longitudinally, the app will continually assess user learning and app engagement. The PhD student will become part of a large lab group at the University of Glasgow that focuses on health cognition and behaviour. The two Glasgow supervisors will provide training in health cognition, behaviour change, and research methods. The industry partner will serve as an equal third supervisor, providing training in app development, implementation, and assessment. The PhD project will play a foundational role for developing future collaborative projects that aim to develop increasingly powerful apps for decreasing distress and increasing eustress.