From persuasion to negotiation in health promoting technology

Maitland, Julie (2009) From persuasion to negotiation in health promoting technology. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Over recent years, designing technologies to promote health-related behavioural change has been an area of growing interest in HCI. Given the prevalence of self-monitoring and social facilitation in emerging designs, the assumption appears to be that increasing an individual’s awareness of his or her behaviour and the behaviour of others will promote behavioural change. This thesis argues that while this is true to some extent, this represents a somewhat naive view of how individuals come to make decisions regarding their health-related behaviours. Three qualitative studies within distinct health domains illustrate the complex nature of health-related behavioural change.
Weight Management was an inherently social activity, albeit subject to selective disclosure and incremental participation. Individuals were generally motivated by appearance rather than health, implementing change based on exposure and orientation to alternative strategies. In Families at Risk, caregivers were highly motivated by a desire to safeguard the health of their children but were restricted by a lack of financial and strategic resources. Lack of trust and a transient community contributed to social isolation, thus inhibiting opportunities for collaboration. In Cardiac Rehabilitation, behavioural change efforts were prompted by an acute health crisis and guided by health professionals. However, behavioural change efforts were sometimes restricted by a desire to return to normal, tensions arising when what was considered normal was composed of risk behaviours. Family involvement varied greatly, ranging from disregard to facilitating change, and a desire for independence and ownership of the rehabilitation sometimes restricted the active involvement of peers.
Informed by the findings of these studies this thesis highlights the strengths and limitations of current technological approaches to promoting behavioural change, provides implications for design, and supported by the sociomedical literature, identifies alternative avenues of technological innovation. The thesis reflects on technology’s role in health-related behavioural change and considers associated ethical implications. Overall, the main contribution of this thesis is a reframing of the problem of promoting health-related behavioural change as more than a matter of behavioural awareness and personal motivation. While it is understandable that technologists would look to the clinical domain to inform initial investigations in this area, this thesis argues that technologists should be cautious about blindly adopting its prescriptive paradigm. As an alternative to persuasion, this thesis offers negotiation as a potential model for future innovations in this area.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: HCI, pervasive health, persuasive technology, ubiquitous computing, qualitative enquiry, user-centred design, health, physical inactivity, dietary intake, weight management, cardiac rehabilitation, low-income families
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Supervisor's Name: Chalmers, Dr. Matthew
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Mrs Julie Maitland
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-808
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:26

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