Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Alan Hevner, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Matthew Mullarkey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gert-Jan de Vreede, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jean Kabongo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Tarpey, DBA


internal-external control, clinical decision support systems, physician-patient relations, outcomes assessment


Patient locus of control is a strong determinant of health outcomes, yet health care professionals do not typically address it in care plans. In fact, management of most medical conditions is hindered because the treating physician has little information about the patient’s locus of control. This research addresses the question “How can locus of control be used to enable health care practitioners to improve medical outcomes?”

Research Methodology. Using an engaged scholarship approach incorporating the Elaborated Action Design Research methodology, the research drives the guided, emergent design of a novel protocol and two separate artifacts for management of health locus of control.

Diagnosis. Utilizing feedback from 19 interviews with health care professionals and patients conducted in seven locations over the period July 2019 through November 2020, the research narrows and clarifies the problem space, positing a generalized protocol for identifying, assessing, and engaging the patient in modification of their health locus of control.

Design. Synthesizing the insights of two focus groups with seasoned health care professionals, the research further clarifies the nascent solution space and designs novel artifacts for (a) assessing a patient’s potential for improved engagement in the course of care and (b) identifying, prioritizing, and communicating the steps necessary for health care practitioners to effect this change. The resulting solutions combine to present a method, confirmed by two independent simulations, for health care professionals to help patients move to an efficacious locus of control, independent of disease category or diagnosis, engaging them fully in clinical interventions.

Research Contributions, Limitations, and Future Research. Finally, the research identifies the conclusions, limitations, and future research of the effort, suggesting next steps in realizing the full value of managing patient locus of control.