Developing a personalised virtual coach ‘Denk je zèlf!’ for emotional eaters through the design of emotion-enriched personas

Aranka Dol, Olga Kulyk, Hugo Velthuijsen, Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen, Tatjana van Strien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

282 Downloads (Pure)


Obesity is a fast-growing societal threat, causing
chronic conditions, physical and psychological health problems,
as well as sickness absence and heavy healthcare costs. Despite
numerous attempts to promote physical activity and healthy
diet, existing interventions do not focus on the common
emotional causes of obesity. There is a need for self-management
support of this vulnerable target group: emotional eaters. This
paper presents the results of the design case study focusing on a
holistic design and evaluation of a personalised virtual mHealth
coach that provides self-management training ‘Denk je zèlf!’
(Dutch for ‘Develop a wise mind and counsel yourself’). The
target group are young adults with an emotional eating disorder
and who are obese. The contextual inquiry study was conducted
to gain insights into the needs and experiences of the target
users, including interviews and questionnaires with emotional
eaters, patients undergoing obesity treatment, and healthcare
practitioners. Personas and the use-case scenario were derived
from these results and translated into the new ‘Denk je zèlf!’
virtual coach, based on Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and
experience sampling measures to capture user experience and
emotional state. The main contributions of this paper are: (a)
combining holistic eHealth design, behavior chain analysis, and
dialectic behaviour therapy in one personalised virtual mHealth
coaching application for emotional eaters; (b) applying emotionenriched
Personas to guide the design; (c) the results of the
initial user evaluation. Preliminary results suggest that the
‘Denk je zèlf!’ virtual coach is useful for helping the target
group. Future research will be aimed at further iterative (re)-
design and evaluation, as well as development of the dialectical
dialogues for the virtual coach and content for the education and
instruction modules.
Translated title of the contributionOntwikkelen van een gepersonaliseerde virtuele coach "Denk je zelf!" voor emotionele eters door middel van het vormgeven van met emoties verrijkte persona's
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-243
JournalInternational Journal on Advances in Life Sciences
Issue number3 & 4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2016


  • obesity
  • coaching
  • behavioral change


Dive into the research topics of 'Developing a personalised virtual coach ‘Denk je zèlf!’ for emotional eaters through the design of emotion-enriched personas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this