How Self-tracking and the Quantified Self Promote Health and Well-being: Systematic Review
Mäntymäki Matti; Feng Shan; Salmela Hannu; Dhir Amandeep
Background: Self-tracking technologies are widely used in people's daily lives and health care. Academic research on self-tracking and the quantified self has also accumulated rapidly in recent years. Surprisingly, there is a paucity of research that reviews, classifies, and synthesizes the state of the art with respect to self-tracking and the quantified self.
Objective: Our objective was to identify the state of the art of self-tracking and the quantified self in terms of health and well-being.
Methods: We have undertaken a systematic literature review on self-tracking and the quantified self in promoting health and well-being. After a rigorous literature search, followed by inclusions, exclusions, and the application of article quality assessment protocols, 67 empirical studies qualified for the review.
Results: Our results demonstrate that prior research has focused on 3 stakeholders with respect to self-tracking and the quantified self, namely end users, patients and people with illnesses, and health care professionals and caregivers. We used these stakeholder groups to cluster the research themes of the reviewed studies. We identified 11 research themes. There are 6 themes under the end-user cluster: user motivation and goal setting, usage and effects of self-tracking, continuance intention and long-term usage, management of personal data, rejection and discontinuance, and user characteristics. The patient and people with illnesses cluster contains three themes: usage experience of patients and people with illnesses, management of patient-generated data, and advantages and disadvantages in the clinical context. The health care professional and caregiver cluster contains two themes: collaboration among patients, health care professionals, and caregivers, and changes in the roles of patients and professionals. Moreover, we classified the future research suggestions given in the literature into 5 directions in terms of research designs and research topics. Finally, based on our reflections on the observations from the review, we suggest four future research directions: (1) users' cognitions and emotions related to processing and interpreting the information produced by tracking devices and apps; (2) the dark side of self-tracking (eg, its adverse psychosocial consequences); (3) self-tracking as a societal phenomenon; and (4) systemic impacts of self-tracking on health care and the actors involved.
Conclusions: This systematic literature review contributes to research and practice by assisting future research activities and providing practitioners with a concise overview of the state of the art of self-tracking and the quantified self.
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