Life Course Journey Map: Plotting key health transitions

Nov 6th 2018

Journey maps create an overview of possible problem areas through human-centred, visual storytelling


Life course journey mapping, in its most basic form, compiles a series of transitions or actions onto a timeline, visualising the process that a user goes through. For Core, the journey tool plots key moments or health transitions in a woman’s life, highlighting the link between past experiences and future outcomes.

◆ A woman’s life course – the journey map for Core

How to use it

First, create a template journey map based on relevant research. Make sure to include:

  1. A person(a) – this can be an amalgamation of people identified during the project’s research, as long as
    the persona is realistic.
  2. A time frame – this can be a specific period of time, for example nine months from conception to childbirth, or moments that occur during service usage, for example from first contact with a healthcare practitioner until the healthcare issue is resolved.
  3. Behaviours – the tangible things that occur during that time frame, for example receiving a message from a service provider or taking transport to a facility. In the Core project, a woman’s life course is used to represent both the time frame and behaviours.
  4. Thoughts / perspectives – how the person in this map would perceive these behaviours, for example “I am confused by this message – have I done something wrong?”
  5. Overall wellbeing – this is best expressed as a line graph that shows how positive or negative their wellbeing is at each moment in time. Select your own definition – for Core, we define it as a woman’s own standard of psychological, social, physical and environmental wellbeing.


◆ The vertices plotted by Core journey maps

Completing the journey map

Next, think about the team that should work on this activity. Think broadly about who can provide you with different perspectives on the journey or problem. For example, you will likely want to include someone with access to quantitative research into this topic area, someone with field experience of this scenario, and someone with an understanding of the potential health and wellbeing implications.

Read about the persona and selected journey and discuss it. What sounds familiar to the group, and what seems surprising? Reach a shared understanding of who this person is and what happens to her.

Complete the thoughts / perspectives line by putting yourself in the mind of the person for whom the profile is written, using first person statements such as “I think I should see a doctor now”, or by simply highlighting the main areas of concern. In the Core project, we used stickers to pick out the top three moments of health concern and then described what these were. Complete the wellbeing line by marking the high and low points with an x. Once the group has agreed on these points, join them up to create a line graph.

Now that you’ve created a baseline current state journey map, you can more easily start to imagine potential future states.


Life Course Journey Tool

Life Course Journey Tool Guidelines