Diabetes self-monitoring devices and transformations in “patient work”: New forms of temporality, reflexivity and self-knowledge relating to the experience of chronic illness

Abstract : With traditional capillary blood glucose readers, diabetes patients puncture a fingertip and measure the level of glucose in the blood sample. More recently, continuous blood glucose measuring devices have become available, which not only show current blood sugar levels, but also upward and downward trends and changes over the past few hours. The aim of our analysis is to describe the specific effects of the use of these diabetes self-monitoring systems on “patient work” and on the illness experience. We will show how their use is accompanied by different forms of personal experiment and learning and reconfigures “patient work” by partially releasing patients from certain social, material, spatial, corporeal and cognitive constraints. Because these systems produce and represent data on blood sugar levels over different timeframes, patients can develop new ways of interpreting their symptoms and different ways of anticipating short-term blood glucose fluctuations. Other forms of reflexivity and self-knowledge thus emerge, bringing changes in the temporality of the day-to-day illness experience, and potentially leading to adjustments in treatment and a reduction in some of the anxieties associated with the disorder.
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Journal articles
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Submitted on : Monday, March 19, 2018 - 2:30:39 PM
Last modification on : Monday, June 18, 2018 - 4:38:34 PM

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Alexandre Mathieu-Fritz, Caroline Guillot. Diabetes self-monitoring devices and transformations in “patient work”: New forms of temporality, reflexivity and self-knowledge relating to the experience of chronic illness. Revue d'Anthropologie des Connaissances, Société d'Anthropologie des Connaissances, 2017, 11,4 (4), ⟨10.3917/rac.037.k⟩. ⟨halshs-01737400⟩

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