Women’s embodied experiences of using wearable digital self-tracking health technology: a review of the qualitative research literature
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionHealth Care for Women International. 2021. https://doi.org/10.1080/07399332.2021.1884682
In this review we aimed to identify and synthesize the existing qualitative research literature on women’s experiences of using wearable digital self-tracking health technology, and analytically explore the lived through and embodied aspects of self-tracking in the first-person accounts presented in this literature. Thirteen empirical studies conducted in Australia, USA, Canada, Denmark, Finland and Germany, and published within the time period 2014 to 2019, were identified through systematic searches in relevant databases, and analyzed using a method of interpretive metasynthesis. Our analysis suggests that women experienced gaining access to bodily information that was otherwise experienced as hidden through using a wearable device, and that experiencing feelings was integral to their self-tracking practices and experiences. We thus identified two core themes across the included studies: Embodying the knowing self and Embodying strong feelings. Our review contributes to the existing literature by outlining and describing an emerging body of research across different health related disciplines, and makes a theoretical contribution by highlighting the need to minimize emotional labor and to provide the opportunity for embodying agency in the context of the selftracking activities of patients and consumers. In addition we suggests methodological ways forward in producing detailed and nuanced knowledge about the practices and implications of women’s use of digital self-tracking health technology.