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a physical, expressive and multisensory drum tool changing the perspective on relaxation for people with high levels of anxiety




We are living more and more in an inclusionary world, in
which people with all kinds of differences are accepted and
offer a source of inspiration to society. However, people with
elevated trait anxiety, aged 18-35 years old, experience
expressions of worrying and rumination, meaning streams of
negative thinking which restricts in daily life functioning,
disabling them to be their ‘best self in society’ decreasing
empowerment and social integration. This causes a high need
of support in relaxation for this target group. Combining the fact not everybody is able to break his/her anxiety cycle with the current calming relaxation methods, and
the multi-sensory benefits to physical engagement in creative musical tasks, through physical multi-sensory objects, it was researched:

What is the potential effect of building up towards an expressive, multi-sensory and physical peak in play, through the use of a (home-based) creative and multi-sensory object on perceived relaxation and perceived support amongst adolescents and adults with elevated trait anxiety, as defined by the trait/state anxiety inventory?

Target Group Investigation
& First Concepts Evaluation

Investigation of the target group,
their needs in relaxation support and design research scoping
by evaluating four novel design concepts with two experts in
the field of clinical psychology and research (prof.dr. Julian
Rubel and dr. David Rosenbaum)

Final Design & Prototype for Final Evaluation

Creation of a novel final design and interactive prototype to
evaluate in the two focus groups and final expert interview with prof. dr. Julian Rubel (from the psychotherapy research department at the JLU Germany)

Qualitative Studies Researching Relaxation and Support POTENTIAL 

Two iterative focus groups (n=3, n=4) to discuss daily anxiety situations; the design and underlying principle; and its potential effects. Three ‘video probes’ were used for discussion. The expert interview was conducted with prof.dr. Rubel (n=1). He is an expert in research on treatment efficacy in therapy practice contexts. This focused on the discussion of the design, its underlying principle and the role of design in clinical practice to frame future work. Only one of the 'video probes’ was used, focused on the design itself

The designed creative drum tool RELAX-CHANGE, is focused on providing a novel physical, expressive and multi-sensory perspective on relaxation and support for this target group. RELAX-CHANGE, provides the opportunity to build up towards a point of full physical and multi-sensory expression in drum play (highlight in play) to flow from there into
relaxation (release)
. In this work, the design of RELAX-CHANGE is presented and highly qualitative online evaluation methods including two focus groups, with in total 7 participants, and 1 expert interview, with an expert from the field of clinical psychology. It was found that in general, RELAX-CHANGE has the potential to support in relaxation
and is expected to have positive relaxation effects due to its underlying principles and engagement potential of specific design aspects



Concept Development for Complex Problems in Mental Health

The development of concepts was done over the course of two iterations and was focused on designing physical & multi-sensory distraction overcome negative thinking, multi-faceted responses based on anxiety literature, and music theory

highlights in the design research process

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Interaction & Experience Prototyping

Programming of the interactive and experiential functions of the final design probe including: capacitive touch, musical feedback and light color changing feedback

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Focus Groups and Interview Discussion Probes

The design of a scenario video, visually explaining potential scenarios in which one can experience high levels of anxiety

"It is really difficult to maintain a meditation routine because it is pretty hard to take 30 minutes time for it." (focus group participant)
“I wanted to touch it
through the screen because of the music, which was most interesting, and appealed me to play it.” (focus group participant)
"I can imagine a lot of
people who could benefit from this drum!" (prof. dr. Rubel)
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