On the Ethical Implications of Personal Health Monitoring

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dc.contributor.author Mittelstadt, Brent
dc.date.accessioned 2014-07-10T08:30:23Z
dc.date.available 2014-07-10T08:30:23Z
dc.date.issued 2013-11
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2086/10101
dc.description.abstract Recent years have seen an influx of medical technologies capable of remotely monitoring the health and behaviours of individuals to detect, manage and prevent health problems. Known collectively as personal health monitoring (PHM), these systems are intended to supplement medical care with health monitoring outside traditional care environments such as hospitals, ranging in complexity from mobile devices to complex networks of sensors measuring physiological parameters and behaviours. This research project assesses the potential ethical implications of PHM as an emerging medical technology, amenable to anticipatory action intended to prevent or mitigate problematic ethical issues in the future. PHM fundamentally changes how medical care can be delivered: patients can be monitored and consulted at a distance, eliminating opportunities for face-to-face actions and potentially undermining the importance of social, emotional and psychological aspects of medical care. The norms evident in this movement may clash with existing standards of ‘good’ medical practice from the perspective of patients, clinicians and institutions. By relating utilitarianism, virtue ethics and theories of surveillance to Habermas’ concept of colonisation of the lifeworld, a conceptual framework is created which can explain how PHM may be allowed to change medicine as a practice in an ethically problematic way. The framework relates the inhibition of virtuous behaviour among practitioners of medicine, understood as a moral practice, to the movement in medicine towards remote monitoring. To assess the explanatory power of the conceptual framework and expand its borders, a qualitative interview empirical study with potential users of PHM in England is carried out. Recognising that the inherent uncertainty of the future undermines the validity of empirical research, a novel epistemological framework based in Habermas’ discourse ethics is created to justify the empirical study. By developing Habermas’ concept of translation into a procedure for assessing the credibility of uncertain normative claims about the future, a novel methodology for empirical ethical assessment of emerging technologies is created and tested. Various methods of analysis are employed, including review of academic discourses, empirical and theoretical analyses of the moral potential of PHM. Recommendations are made concerning ethical issues in the deployment and design of PHM systems, analysis and application of PHM data, and the shortcomings of existing research and protection mechanisms in responding to potential ethical implications of the technology. en
dc.description.sponsorship he research described in this thesis was sponsored and funded by the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility of De Montfort University, and was linked to the research carried out in FP7 research projects PHM-Ethics (GA 230602) and ETICA (Ethical Issues of Emerging ICT Applications, GA 230318). en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher De Montfort University en
dc.subject personal health monitoring en
dc.subject ethics en
dc.subject applied ethics en
dc.subject bioethics en
dc.subject ubiquitous computing en
dc.subject wearable computing en
dc.subject virtue ethics en
dc.subject computer ethics en
dc.subject habermas en
dc.subject surveillance en
dc.subject telehealth en
dc.subject telecare en
dc.subject telemedicine en
dc.subject pervasive computing en
dc.subject medical ethics en
dc.subject ambient intelligence en
dc.subject pervasive health en
dc.subject social sorting en
dc.subject lyon en
dc.subject macintyre en
dc.subject lifeworld en
dc.subject discourse ethics en
dc.subject phm en
dc.subject ambient assisted living en
dc.subject ehealth en
dc.subject biometrics en
dc.title On the Ethical Implications of Personal Health Monitoring en
dc.type Thesis or dissertation en
dc.publisher.department Faculty of Technology en
dc.publisher.department Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility en
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral en
dc.type.qualificationname PhD en


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