To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

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

Article publication date: 28 October 2014

Downloads
591

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

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Australian Research Council (grant DP0880699). The authors thank Virginia Hagger and Renza Scibilia of Diabetes Australia, Victoria for assisting with the recruitment of participants, and the women and healthcare professionals who agreed to be interviewed for this research. The authors are also grateful to the editor and anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript. The authors dedicate this paper to the memory of the colleague and friend, Professor Steve Howard (1961-2013) of the University of Melbourne. Steve joined the University of Melbourne in 2000, and over the next decade his leadership transformed the research agenda of the Department of Information Systems. Steve established the Interaction Design Laboratory, served as Head of Department from 2007-2010, and was the inaugural Director of the Melbourne School of Information in 2012. His scholarship, intellectual insights, and generous mentoring of staff and students were widely recognised in the University, and he was internationally renowned as a leading scholar in his field of research.

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

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited