Kacee RossStudent Research Spotlight - Kacee Ross

Kassandra “Kacee” Ross won first place in the poster category, University-Wide Graduate Student Winners in Human Sciences, Social Sciences, Creative Arts, Nursing and Humanities, during the virtual 2021 Auburn Research: Student Symposium.

Hometown:  Homewood, Alabama
Major and degree: Doctorate in Consumer and Design Sciences
College: College of Human Sciences
Department: Department of Consumer and Design Sciences
Class year: Third-year Doctoral Student
Faculty mentor: Wi-Suk Kwon and Salisa Westrick

Medicare plan decisions: What strategy do older adults use for e-healthcare decision-making and what intelligent assistance do they need?



What are you researching?
This research looks at consumer decision strategies older adults use while selecting a Medicare plan using Medicare.gov’s existing website. These decisions are high-stake; they involve critical health choices, are usually costly and many older adults can suffer from cognitive aging barriers that inhibit optimal decision-making (especially while using a computer interface). We analyzed the decision strategies older adults are cognitively using while selecting a plan; we did this to identify the challenges they’re facing.

How could the results benefit individuals, agencies or companies?
Findings from this study showed us that many older adults are not using the best decision strategies while selecting a plan if left without in-person assistance. Subpar decision-making within this context hurts the consumer, and Medicare.gov’s website is currently the only avenue for making and registering Medicare plan selections. Our findings on decision strategies can assist the design of a more appropriate approach in helping older adults in making such critical decisions, like a real-time on-screen AI (artificial intelligence) agent.

Tell us why you enjoy research.
My background includes social psychology with a focus in human perception and identity. I enjoy challenging myself in applying these perspectives to today’s online consumer landscape. My hope is to help enlighten consumers and companies alike in creating a more equitable consumer environment that assists, rather than harms, our consumer-driven society. I think having this focus at the forefront makes my research incredibly meaningful for me.

What advice would you give to other students considering doing a research project?
Research is all about problem-solving, so identify those problems or issues in the world that you have a personal connection with. If you establish and maintain this throughout your research, your interest will not wane, and you’ll find the work to be very purposeful.

Tell us about any hobbies or activities you enjoy.
I love spending time in nature, traveling to new places, exploring, creating art and spending quality time with those close to me (including my household of pets).


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