Medical Devices and Healthcare IT

Study: Health wearables cause anxiety and guilt

05 August 2020

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that while health apps and wearables provide useful information about health, they also cause the users anxiety, proving that self measurements are more problematic than beneficial.

Source: UnsplashSource: Unsplash

The study examined the experiences of 27 heart patients, ages 28 to 74, with either a pacemaker or cardiac arrhythmia. They used a FitBit health wearable to measure sleep, heart rate and physical activity and the participants were studied through 66 qualitative interviews.

Researchers found that information gathered via wearables can calm patients or spark doubt and anxiety, depending upon how the information is presented and interpreted. For instance, uninformed patients can make links to their disease that may not be true but that cause anxiety, potentially exacerbating an illness. Meanwhile, if the patient reads vitals that are good, they are reassured. Researchers said that patients cannot properly use health wearables, like the FitBit, to track disease because the wearables are created to monitor fitness and sports performance alone.

Patients also reported feeling that the devices encouraged exercise, but if they did not reach the goals set for that day, users felt guilty. This is an unintended consequence of wearables intended for fitness monitoring.

The teams said that in order for apps to have a positive effect, patients need help interpreting the data as it relates to their disease. They suggest creating a digital platform that links doctors and patients so they can interpret their data together.

A paper on this technology was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

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Discussion – 1 comment

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Re: Study: Health wearables cause anxiety and guilt
2020-Sep-08 6:07 AM

Yes, I agree with your point that it disturbs health but very few understand this point. Since I have subscribed to your webpage so I can get the information timely here. Keep sharing more quality posts and allow others to take benefits from your knowledge.

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