My colleagues and I recently had an article published in the journal Information Technology & People. The article draws on interviews with women who had Type 1 diabetes and were pregnant, planning for pregnancy, or had recently had a baby at the time of the interview. The research examined the role new technologies - particularly IT-enabled insulin pumps, or "smartpumps" - played in assisting the women to manage their diabetes during (or before/after) pregnancy. Using an Activity Theory lens, we identified the contradictions that arose when new technologies were introduced into this complex health management activity.
The research found that health management in this setting involved negotiations and contradictions across boundaries of interacting activities. The women we interviewed played an active and pivotal role in managing their health and using new IT tools in particular ways to support their health management. Using new technologies created both opportunities and challenges. IT-enabled healthcare devices and other information systems opened up new treatment possibilities, but also generated new contradictions between interacting activity systems.
Given the central and proactive role that our interviewees played in choosing and appropriating new tools to manage their health, we argue that healthcare providers need to accommodate a bottom-up approach to the adoption and use of new technologies. This is particularly important in settings where empowered patients play an active role in managing their health.
Here are the full publication details:
Waycott, J., Scheepers, R., Davis, H., Howard, S., & Sonenberg, L. (2014). The individual in multiple interacting activity systems: IT-supported diabetes management. Information, Technology & People, 27(4), 463-481.
Dr Jenny Waycott, Associate Professor, School of Computing & Information Systems, The University of Melbourne
Contact: jwaycott @ unimelb.edu.au