Wellbeing and Virtual Environments - WaVe Lab

Caju Gomes

What are we researching?

We (the Wellbeing and Virtual Environments Lab are an interdisciplinary team of behavioural scientists and designers doing applied research to find innovative solutions for wellbeing. Our mission is to bring together behavioral science, design and technology to stimulate positive behavioral change and wellbeing in people's lives.

Why are we doing this research?

Students play an important role in strengthening our society. However, being a student has its challenges. Entering academia marks a period of transition rocked by different academic and social pressures. This period poses a risk to mental health, especially when individuals lack appropriate support. In fact, study after study shows students mental health is at stake, with students displaying high levels of stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms and suffering from loneliness.

How are we doing this research?

To help students we are building an understanding of what, how and when to provide support to them taking into account their individual needs and vulnerabilities. In the development process and research of digital tools, we are using a human-centred approach, involving students in every step of the process including taking an active role in intervention design (i.e., co-designers). To find solutions to practical and research problems we are including expertise in mental health, design, research methods, biostatistics, data science and machine learning; and utilizing innovative methodologies like Micro Randomized Trials [MRTs] for optimization of the digital tools.

How does our research make an impact?

Our research projects have an impact on multiple levels.

1. Society

Our digital behaviour tools aim to support students’ development into healthy and resilient individuals that feel equipped to cope with the challenges of adult life. It also helps breaking the barriers surrounding mental health (like mental health stigma, poor mental health literacy). And it bridges the gap between existing needs and treatments available for mental health complaints among students.

2. Science / Research

We aim to make an impact on the ways digital behaviour change interventions are created and tested to pave the way for innovative digital solutions for wellbeing and beyond. For example, we are using innovative approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of separate exercises building an intervention, to better understand what works in which contexts and for which people. We are also developing a more holistic view of engagement strategies to support sustainable behaviour change of digital tools users.

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