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What Can We Learn from Squid Game, Game of Thrones, or Breaking Bad to Lower the Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health?

June 9, 2022


Tobias Kowatsch, PhD
Scientific Director, Centre for Digital Health Interventions
Assistant Professor for Digital Health, Insitute of Tech. Management
University of St.Gallen, Switzerland


About the Webinar:

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) impose enormous health burdens on individuals and lead to substantial health economic challenges. NCDs’ 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 significantly 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 better 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 to address socioeconomic inequalities in health.

About Tobias Kowatsch:

Dr. Kowatsch is the Scientific Director of the Center for Digital Health Interventions (, a joint initiative of the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics at ETH Zurich and the Institute of Technology Management at the University of St.Gallen,tobias-kowatsch-1000×700-2019.jpg Switzerland. He is also Assistant Professor for Digital Health at the University of St.Gallen. In close collaboration with his interdisciplinary team and research partners, Tobias designs digital health interventions (“digital pills”) at the intersection of information systems research, computer science, and behavioral medicine. He helped initiate and still participates in the ongoing development of MobileCoach (, an open-source software platform for digital biomarker and health intervention research. He is also co-founder of the ETH Zurich and University of St.Gallen spin-off company Pathmate Technologies ( which creates and delivers digital clinical pathways. His current research focuses on holistic just-in-time lifestyle interventions for healthy longevity in vulnerable individuals. More about Tobias Kowatsch.

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