The limits of empowerment: how to reframe the role of mHealth tools in the healthcare ecosystem

Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (3):1159-1183 (2020)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
This article highlights the limitations of the tendency to frame health- and wellbeing-related digital tools as empowering devices, especially as they play an increasingly important role in the National Health Service in the UK. It argues that mHealth technologies should instead be framed as digital companions. This shift from empowerment to companionship is advocated by showing the conceptual, ethical, and methodological issues challenging the narrative of empowerment, and by arguing that such challenges, as well as the risk of medical paternalism, can be overcome by focusing on the potential for mHealth tools to mediate the relationship between recipients of clinical advice and givers of clinical advice, in ways that allow for contextual flexibility in the balance between patiency and agency. The article concludes by stressing that reframing the narrative cannot be the only means for avoiding harm caused to the NHS as a healthcare system by the introduction of mHealth tools. Future discussion will be needed on the overarching role of responsible design.
(categorize this paper)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2021-06-10
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
63 ( #58,332 of 69,143 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
20 ( #39,045 of 69,143 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.