‘Pushed’ self-tracking using digital technologies for chronic health condition management: a critical interpretive synthesis

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ntroduction Health policies internationally advocate health services provider support for health services users’ ‘self-management’ of chronic health conditions. Digital technologies are beginning to have a role in delivering such support. ‘Pushed’ self-tracking of health-related information, including imposed measurement of biomedical and behavioural data, is one approach; however, there is little systematic or discursive research. The aim of this research was to explore factors relevant to the implementation of ‘pushed’ self-tracking technologies into support for self-management of chronic health conditions interventions.

Methods This paper reports a critical interpretive synthesis of studies involving ‘pushed’ self-tracking using digital technologies to support the self-management of chronic health conditions. The review systematically identified relevant literature, characterised the technologies and discursively explored their implementation and impacts, and human technology interactions.

Findings The literature (n = 83), including ‘simple’ (n = 51) and ‘complex’ (n = 32) interventions, perhaps unsurprisingly, concentrates on technical and clinical rather than sociological and behavioural perspectives, which limits understanding. Some attention is paid to experiences and views of providers and users about digital technologies implementation and impacts on the delivery of care, for example: consequences of having increased information; compatibility with current systems; implications for personnel; and human–technology negotiations.

Conclusions This is a rapidly developing field and early technical and clinical insights are useful. There are opportunities for researchers to explore the sociological and behavioural aspects, and ethical challenges, of implementing ‘pushed’ self-tracking support programmes too. Detailed multidisciplinary research is needed to understand and guide technical and medical developments that integrate digital technologies into the delivery of care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-41
Number of pages41
JournalDigital Health
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial
support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article:
This research was funded by an award made to Heather Morgan,
Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, through the
Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (RG12724-13).
The Health Services Research Unit is core funded by the Chief
Scientist Office of the Scottish Government’s Health and Social
Care Directorates. The author accepts full responsibility for this


  • digital technologies
  • chronic health conditions
  • self-management
  • self-tracking
  • health monitoring


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