01.12.2022 IfI Colloquium: What can we learn from Squid Game, Game of Thrones, or Breaking Bad to Lower the Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health?


Prof. Dr. Tobias Kowatsch, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Date: Thursday, 1 December 2022, 17:15 h

Location: room BIN 2.A.01 at the Department of Informatics (IfI)Binzmühlestrasse 14, 8050 Zürich  (information here) 

Details about the format of the talk shall be checked always just ahead of a certain presentation date: (information here) 


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) impose enormous health burdens on individuals and lead to substantial economic challenges. Known risk factors relate primarily to a lifestyle characterized by tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, or an unbalanced diet. This lifestyle can lead to obesity, hypertension, and other cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Unfortunately, individuals with lower socioeconomic status (SES) are substantially more affected by NCDs. These individuals are also underrepresented in clinical and non-clinical trials. As a result, health interventions are potentially only effective for individuals with higher SES and do not address those most in need. Therefore, it is essential to understand how to reach and engage individuals with lower SES. In this talk, I will discuss what we can learn from the most successful TV shows to “hijack” the comfort zones of vulnerable individuals and design digital health interventions that may lower the socioeconomic inequalities in health.


Dr Tobias Kowatsch is Associate Professor for Digital Health Interventions at the Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care, University of Zurich (UZH). He is also Director at the School of Medicine, University of St.Gallen (HSG), and the Scientific Director of the Centre for Digital Health Interventions (www.c4dhi.org), a joint initiative of UZH, HSG, and ETH Zurich. Dr Kowatsch is also Advisor to Dartmouth’s Center for Technology and Behavioral Health (www.c4tbh.org). In close collaboration with his interdisciplinary team and research partners, Dr Kowatsch designs digital health interventions at the intersection of information systems research, computer science, and behavioral medicine. He helped initiate and participates in the ongoing development of MobileCoach (www.mobile-coach.eu), an open source platform for ecological momentary assessments, digital biomarker, and health intervention research. He also co-founded the ETH Zurich and University of St.Gallen spin-off company Pathmate Technologies which creates and delivers digital clinical pathways. Dr. Kowatsch holds a PhD in Management (HSG, 2016), a Master’s in Business Informatics (Saarland University, 2012), a Master’s in Media and Computer Science (Hochschule Furtwangen, 2007), and a Diploma (FH) in Computer Science (Hochschule Furtwangen, 2005). After his successful habilitation in 2021, he was also awarded the degree of a private lecturer with the “venia legendi” in Information Systems with a special focus on Digital Health (HSG, 2022). He published his research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (JCCP), American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT), Information Systems Journal (ISJ), and Computers in Human Behavior (CHB).