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Terika McCall recognized for inclusive digital health tools

June 25, 2024
by Erin Ferrare

Terika McCall, assistant professor of biostatistics (health informatics) at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), was honored recently for her dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion by the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII).

McCall is the inaugural recipient of ISRII's Extraordinary Contributions to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award, which is given to an ISRII member who is an early- to mid-career professional whose research uses innovative technology to reduce public health disparities.

The award highlights the recipient's dedication to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion using technologies such as mobile apps and wearables. McCall’s expertise is in user-centered design and usability testing of digital health tools.

“What Terika has achieved is simply amazing,” said Shuangge (Steven) Ma, chair of the Department of Biostatistics at YSPH. “Through leading-edge research, she has made tremendous contributions to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

McCall has experience leading teams in both industry and academia to develop digital health tools. She is proficient in the design of digital technology focused on telehealth, specifically in mental health services. McCall is the director of the Consumer Health Informatics Lab (CHIL@Yale), a research space dedicated to developing and evaluating consumer-facing health products.

“The mission of the lab is actually to improve the health of individuals,” McCall said. “[We do this] by supporting innovative research through consultation on inclusive design and usability testing of consumer health products for diverse populations," she said. "We basically focus on developing more inclusive digital health tools and really try to follow a rigorous user-centered design process.”

Guided by her personal experience with anxiety and depression, McCall created a prototype of a smartphone app, WellSis, to support Black women with managing their mental health. After talking with her friends and family about their mental health, McCall realized that she was not alone, and she used this awareness as the focus of her research program. She was recognized in 2022 with the Yale School of Public Health’s Health Equity Research Award for this research and proposed design.

She has since collaborated with Dr. Karen Wang, MD, assistant professor of biostatistics (health informatics) at YSPH and assistant professor of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine on the development of a mobile app, Welcome Home. The app focuses on supporting incarceration-impacted individuals as they rejoin their communities. Individuals with a history of incarceration face many barriers to accessing resources to meet their basic needs when returning to community settings.

McCall said digital health tools have the potential to reduce health inequities by facilitating connections to health and social services.

Submitted by Jane E. Dee on June 24, 2024