Rachel Greene

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Robert Ricketts

Second Advisor

Jeremy Szteiter


Part I, Autoimmune Disease Management and the Need for Intervention, discusses current and standard Autoimmune Disease- (AI/AID) management and the shortcomings within. Typical AID-management led by healthcare professionals lacks a holistic, symptom-based approach, thus further contributing to the daily chronic pain of the afflicted. This analysis indicates the need to connect those suffering with AID’s to scientific research that has determined strict dieting can significantly reduce symptoms associated with AID’s. Part II, Synthesizing A Model For Online Health Community Engagement, examines the website prototype of Greenebean, which is an online community developed via user-centric design, in a theoretical, physical, and creative sense. The intention of Greenebean is to educate and empower those with AID’s to adopt a self-managed healthcare approach through diet. The presentation and delivery of the prototype material is formulated based on how people learn online, the AID community specifically, and what has to exist for learning to occur. Additionally, the website design and content developed is intent on reducing or eliminating the most-common barriers associated with participating in online communities of this nature. By providing Autoimmune Disease patients with proper educational resources, concise and knowledgeable direction, as well as an emotional support community based on shared experiences, the patients will be more inclined and empowered to adapt to self-managed health through dietary changes. By participating in a supportive community where users are validated and connected to others in similar circumstances, Autoimmune Disease patients gain a better understanding of their health and perceive to have more control over their health. The importance of prototyping in web development is evaluated and how the creation of products through the lens of the user is an effective way to develop and maintain a thriving, interactive community. Since user experiences will significantly vary, the prototype reflects different user-journey designs, including individual and community interactions. Educational resources and emotional support elements must be flexible to achieve inclusivity and to appeal to varying levels of experience and knowledge. Inter-personal channels and the leveraging of personal experience are effective methods of influencing and empowering others to adopt new behaviors, even when skeptical.