The Ethical Implications of Personal Health Monitoring

International Journal of Technoethics 5 (2):37-60 (2014)
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Abstract

Personal Health Monitoring (PHM) uses electronic devices which monitor and record health-related data outside a hospital, usually within the home. This paper examines the ethical issues raised by PHM. Eight themes describing the ethical implications of PHM are identified through a review of 68 academic articles concerning PHM. The identified themes include privacy, autonomy, obtrusiveness and visibility, stigma and identity, medicalisation, social isolation, delivery of care, and safety and technological need. The issues around each of these are discussed. The system / lifeworld perspective of Habermas is applied to develop an understanding of the role of PHMs as mediators of communication between the institutional and the domestic environment. Furthermore, links are established between the ethical issues to demonstrate that the ethics of PHM involves a complex network of ethical interactions. The paper extends the discussion of the critical effect PHMs have on the patient’s identity and concludes that a holistic understanding of the ethical issues surrounding PHMs will help both researchers and practitioners in developing effective PHM implementations.

Author's Profile

Brent Mittelstadt
Oxford University

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