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Health technology identities and self. Patients’ appropriation of an assistive device for self‐management of chronic illness

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matthias WienrothORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


In recent years, assistive technologies have gained acceptance as tools for supporting chronically ill patients in achieving improvements in physical activity. However, various healthcare and sociological studies show contradicting results regarding the physical and social impact of using such devices. This paper explores real-time user appropriation of an assistive monitoring/tracking device, the pedometer, in a healthcare intervention, with a particular focus on the technology identities users attribute to the pedometer. The study site was a rehabilitation programme at a local Danish health centre supporting patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As part of this empirical study, six focus-group interviews were conducted with patients before and after they used pedometers. The analysis of respondents' accounts shows that monitoring devices become part of users’ complex socio-technical ensembles in which the use of the device and its tracking of activity is constantly negotiated through experimentation with type and frequency of use; interpretation of knowledge and experience gained via the device; and negotiation of expectations, well-being, and the value of quantified knowledge for the management of chronic illness. On the basis of these findings the paper brings together and advances sociological scholarship on chronic illness, embodiment, the quantified self, and technology adoption.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wienroth M, Thomsen LL, Høstgaard AM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociology of Health and Illness

Year: 2020

Volume: 42

Issue: 5

Pages: 1077-1094

Print publication date: 01/06/2020

Online publication date: 10/03/2020

Acceptance date: 14/02/2020

Date deposited: 17/02/2020

ISSN (print): 0141-9889

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9566

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.13079


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