The individual in multiple interacting activity systems: IT-supported diabetes management

Jenny Waycott (Department of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Rens Scheepers (School of Information Systems, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Hilary Davis (Department of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Steve Howard (Department of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Liz Sonenberg (Department of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Publication date: 28 October 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how pregnant women with type 1 diabetes integrate new information technology (IT) into their health management activities, using activity theory as an analytical framework.

Design/methodology/approach

The research is a multiple case design, based on interviews with 15 women with type 1 diabetes who were pregnant, considering pregnancy, or had recently given birth. A thematic analysis, sensitised by activity theory, was used to analyse the data.

Findings

Health management in this setting involves negotiations and contradictions across boundaries of interacting activities. Participants play an active role in managing their health and using new IT tools in particular ways to support their health management. Using new technologies creates both opportunities and challenges. IT-enabled healthcare devices and other information systems open up new treatment possibilities, but also generate new contradictions between interacting activity systems.

Research limitations/implications

The research was conducted with a small sample in a specific context of health management. Further research is needed to extend the findings to other contexts.

Practical implications

Healthcare providers need to accommodate a bottom-up approach to the adoption and use of new technologies in settings where empowered patients play an active role in managing their health.

Originality/value

The findings highlight opportunities to further develop activity theory to accommodate the central role that individuals play in resolving inherent contradictions and achieving alignment between multiple interacting activity systems when incorporating new IT tools into health management activities.

Keywords

Citation

Waycott, J., Scheepers, R., Davis, H., Howard, S. and Sonenberg, L. (2014), "The individual in multiple interacting activity systems: IT-supported diabetes management", Information Technology & People, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 463-481. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-11-2013-0195

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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