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Community Centered Conversations
Interview Tool - User Research - Prototyping

My team was tasked with understanding how to communicate with patients about social determinants of health in a more humanistic way. Instead of following the traditional survey that people receive at the doctor’s office, we wanted to create a conversation tool that allowed people to speak about their life and rank topics based on their level of importance. 


Through multiple phases of user testing, my team and I were able to fine-tune this activity to design an easy-to-use activity that allows participants of all ages and backgrounds to discuss social determinants of health. 


The card sort was created to talk to people about social determinants of health in a less clinical way. Instead of asking someone if they were food insecure, being able to get them to talk about how and where they get their food from and inferring what resources they may need. 

The Elements

The card sort consists of a large gradient board, 12 cards depicting various social determinants of health and four different colored tokens representing the categories: Live, Work, Play, and Learn. 


The gradient board was designed to minimize the amount of time the user needs to decide where their card should be placed. When compared to a five-point-grid, the decision time was cut in half when using the gradient because there was more opportunity for freedom and personal decision making. 


Extensive research showed that simple icons were more effective in situations where many different types of people will be participating. By keeping the card drawings simple, participants are able to effectively facilitate visual processing and reduce distraction. 

Live, Work, Play, Learn Framework

Rather than controlling which cards fit into which category, the use of colored tokens representing Live, Work, Play, and Learn allowed the participants to inform the facilitator which category has the most significance to them.


The concept of Live, Work, Play, and Learn used by our team stems from the Environmental Justice Movement which has broadened the scope of conservation and preservation of natural resources and now defines the environment as “Where we live, work, play, and learn.” Sustainability and the continuity of care all require some level of health of and for the environment.

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