Digital Health and Wellbeing

The OU’s Digital Health and Wellbeing Special Interest Group (DH&W SIG) consists of researchers, academics and business development practitioners from disciplines across the University with expertise in healthcare, digital games, chemistry, age-in-place, older adults, gamification, language, education, mixed methods, international studies, disability, design, scoping/narrative reviews, music, chronic health conditions, wearable technology, energy, artificial intelligence, active and assisted living.

The DHW SIG facilitates academics, senior and early career researchers the opportunity to collaborate together, support each other through peer reviewing of grant applications, journal papers, conference abstracts, public engagement, impact activities, knowledge transfer, and dissemination of information with a view to positively impacting on society.

Research Lead

The lead of the Digital Health & Wellbeing SIG is Dr Hannah R. Marston who is the Research Fellow in the Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area.

Hannah is currently involved in several projects, surrounding the use of Technology in Society. She is currently leading the International COVID-19: Technology, Social Connections, Loneliness & Leisure Activities which includes collaborators from 11 countries, and includes 10 languages.

Previously, Hannah initiated and led the Technology In Later Life (TILL) project, an international, multi-centred, exploratory study focusing on adults aged >70 years and their ICT perceptions, and behaviours in rural and urban environments. At the same time, she was working as a research associate in the Centre for Research and Computing at The Open University, on the Monetize Me (EPSRC) project.

Hannah has an international profile, she has held positions at the Institute of Movement & Sport Gerontology at the German Sport University Cologne (DSHS) in Germany working as a research scientist on the iStoppFalls EU project.  Between 2010-2011, Hannah was a post-doctoral fellow at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo.

Hannah holds several national and international professional memberships (i.e. BSG, GSA, SGS, IGDA) and between 2017-2020 she was a member of the National Executive Committee of the British Society of Gerontology. She is an editorial board member of The Computer Games Journal and is a member of the board of reviewers for Game Studies.

To date she has published 40+ journal papers, and book chapters, in 2017 she published Mobile eHealth.

Hannah is involved in several Special Journal Issues relating to:

Currently, Hannah with colleagues from Swansea University, University of Limerick and Age Northern Ireland are writing a book which will be published by Emerald. The focus of the book surrounds the use of digital technologies across the Life Course, interweaving the voice of the older user throughout.


We are in an ever changing society given the day-to-day changes, and information surrounding #COVID19. Colleagues in this SIG are publishing various pieces of work and planning studies relating to the #COVID19 outbreak. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we have a designated COVID-19 web page where you will find all work related research by colleagues of the Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area (H&W SRA).


  1. Marston, H.R., & Morgan, D.J. (2020) Technology & Social Media during COVID-19 Pandemic. Special Issue: COVID-19 & Geriatric Mental Health Worldwide. IPA Bulletin; 3(2). Available from
  2. Marston, H.R., & Kowert, R. (2020). What role can videogames play in the COVID-19 pandemic? [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Emerald Open Res2:34.
  3. ​White, P.J., Marston, H.R., Shore, L., and Turner, R. (2020). Learning from COVID-19: Design, Age-friendly Technology, Hacking and Mental Models [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Emerald Open Res, 2:21
  4. Sheerman L, Marston HR, Musselwhite C and Morgan D. (2020). COVID-19 and the secret virtual assistants: the social weapons for a state of emergency [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Emerald Open Res, 2:19
  5. Marston, H.R., Musselwhite, C., & Hadley, R. (2020). COVID-19 vs Social Isolation: the Impact Technology can have on Communities, Social connections and Citizens. Ageing Issues, British Society of Gerontology.
  6. Vseteckova, J. (2020). Ageing Well in Self-Isolation: How to age well, while self-isolating? More information is available here


Research Projects & Collaboration:

ACTIS Programme:

SIG members are active with various research projects and collaborations, both with internal and external colleagues, stakeholders, industry and HEIs. Examples of the various research projects and collaborations can be found below:

ACTIS Programme is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network. The aims and purpose of ACTIS are focusing on the economic performance of the Life Sciences sector within the SEMLEP region; by facilitating SMEs to increase their competitive advantage through collaboration, stimulating and innovation between various actors (e.g. business, NHS and research).

H&W SRA and various SIG members have organised several events with Medilink East Midlands to facilitate organic prospective collaborations between research and SMEs:

  • Technologies to make Homes & Communities Smart – Forthcoming 2020
    • OU Speakers: Alessio Antonini & Miguel Valdez
  • Diagnostics for Health and Wellbeing – May 2019
    • OU Speakers: Geraint (Taff) Morgan & Clara Mancini
  • Assistive Technologyies – November 2018
    • OU Speakers: Tim Coughlan & Sharif Haider
  • Using Gamification to support Active & Assistive Living in the Elderly – November 2017
    • OU Speakers: Andrea Berardi & Hannah R. Marston

Collaborations across SIGs:

With internal funding, Members of the Digital Health & Wellbeing SIG can and do have the opportunity to collaborate with other members of the H&W SRA but who align in another SIG. Examples of this include:

Additional Researchers Include:

The DH&W SIG comprises of many academics from across The Open University and Faculties, comprising of different skills, knowledge and expertise.

We welcome external communication with stakeholders, SMEs and industry who wish to work with us in the area of Digital Health & Wellbeing.

  • Allan Third
  • Amel Bennaceur
  • Andrea Berardi
  • Blaine Price
  • Caroline Tagg
  • Chris Douce
  • Clara Mancini
  • Duncan Banks
  • Geraint (Taff) Morgan
  • Hannah R. Marston
  • Riasat Islam
  • Parvathy Harilal
  • Gini Harrison
  • Simon Holland
  • Ursula Stickler
  • Verina Waights
  • Gemma Ryan
  • Jitka Vsetechkova
  • Adrian Poulton
  • Ben Langdown
  • Vikram Mehta
  • Miguel Valdez
  • Tim Coughlan
  • Sharif Haider

Past Events

2nd Digital Health & Wellbeing Conference – 1-3 May 2018

The DH&W SIG hosted a 3-day conference at The Open University between 1-3 May 2018. This conference was a follow on from a 1-day symposium held in March 2017. Throughout the conference there were parallel tracks across different areas of Digital Health & Wellbeing including: Games for Health, Assisted Technologies, digital literacy, Social Media, Education, Wearable technologies, Telehealth/care, Environment, New Routes to Market, Psychological behaviour.

We were pleased to have 3 keynote speakers:

  • Professor Andy Miah & Dr Emma Rich, Salford University & University of Bath
  • Dr Josephine McMurray – Wilfred Laurier University, Brantford, Canada
  • Dr Matthew Fay – General Practitioner at the Westcliffe Group and the Willows Medical group in Queensbury, West Yorkshire.

Throughout the conference there were plenty of opportunities for delegates to network during the book launch on the Tuesday night and the Conference dinner on the Wednesday evening at the Hilton Double Tree, MK Dons Stadium.

Digital Health and Wellbeing Symposium

The first Digital Health and Wellbeing Symposium was a huge success. We welcomed researchers and healthcare professionals from a wide range if institutions, many of which were able to build their networks at the event. The talks were fantastic and provided great insight into interesting research areas within Digital Health and Wellbeing.

The videos can be replayed via stadium (The Open University’s webcasting platform) using the links below, alternatively you can download the PowerPoint presentation.

Friday 24th March, 2017

Time Schedule Presentation
08:45-09:45 Registration
09:45-10:00 Welcome Address
Professor Regine Hampel, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
Watch the replay
10:00-10:30 Dr Josephine McMurray, Wilfred Laurier University, Canada Title of Presentation: Tertius iungens: Connecting the disconnected and other notions that help build ecosystems to support health & agetech innovation
10:35-11:05 Dr Malcolm Fisk, De Montfort University Title of Presentation: Developments in Telehealth: How Consumers will Change the Way that Services are Provided
Watch the replay
11:05-11:30 Comfort Break & Networking
11:35-12:05 Dr Matthew Fay, GP Principal The Willows Medical Practice, West Yorkshire Title of Presentation: A new paradigm in palpitation management
Watch the replay
12:10-12:40 Dr Charles Musselwhite, Swansea University Title of Presentation: Supporting mobility of older people: Why technology is getting it wrong
Watch the replay
12:40-13:45 Lunch & Networking
13:50-14:45 Panel Discussion Watch the replay
14:50-15:15 Dr Elisabeth Boulton, University of Manchester Title of Presentation: Motivating 60-70 year olds to be more active using smart technology: The PreventIT project
Watch the replay
15:15-15:30 Comfort Break & Networking
15:35-16:05 Professor Josie Tetley & Dr Emma Koivunen, Manchester Metropolitan University Title of Presentation: Using technology to reduce isolation
Watch the replay
16:10-16:35 Dr Verina Waights, The Open University Title of Presentation: Enhancing quality of life of carers through innovative ehealth technologies
Watch the replay
16:35-16:50 Closing Remarks Dr Hannah R Marston, Research Fellow, Health and Wellbeing Priority Research Area

If you are interested in being part of the Digital Health and Wellbeing Special Interest Group please contact Hannah R. Marston who is leading the SIG where further details will be provided.