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Bodily and biosocial user practices in type 1 diabetes management

Kaya, Sezgi
Aside from the integration of digital technologies that made products compact and connected, the changes in healthcare policies redefined the practice of being ill and the patient profile. Medicine became commercialized and directly targeted individuals as potential consumers. Thus, patients are given responsibility for their own bodies. This study is focused on the user practices of self-monitoring devices as a representative example regarding the changes mentioned above. Despite the increasing number of studies focused on self-monitoring devices, design-related examples are limited to the discussions of user experience and usability. This thesis examines this gap by exploring the changes in care practices and patient profiles with the use of remote health technologies from the perspective of the human body and biosociality. The fieldwork of the thesis consists of semi-structured in-depth interviews with 12 participants using the insulin pump and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems, who were recruited through a social media account. Based on the findings, this thesis offers six main conclusions. First, changes in healthcare have redefined the experiences of being chronically ill. Second, contemporary devices provide the users with dynamic, real-time visualization of an unknown (i.e., anticipated glucose change). Third, in regard to use context, wearable technologies impact the visibility of diabetes. Fourth, the bodily experiences of self-monitoring devices result in the characterization of the human body. By its very nature, in some instances, diabetes requires collaborative management, and apart from the patient, the others also obtain the right for decision making. Within this context, self-monitoring devices may substitute some of the actors in the care network. Last, as technology use in diabetes management arises the need for experiential knowledge, individuals come together and constitute examples of a community of practices.