‘DEPAC’: Digital enablement, promise and uncertainty in maternity care

 

Key points

  • Emergencies during pregnancy and birth, while unusual, can develop rapidly with catastrophic short and long term consequences for mother and baby
  • Digital technologies have been developed enabling pregnant women to undertake self-monitoring activities and share concerns with healthcare professionals
  • This project will examine how these technologies shape women’s experiences of pregnancy and contribute to new ways of engaging with healthcare

Background to the project

Digital technologies provide self-tracking and self-diagnostic support to women in pregnancy. These include mobile / web applications and self-monitoring devices that facilitate self-tracking practices outside the hospital. For example, monitoring systems supplied by hospitals to women at risk of pre-eclampsia for recording weight, blood pressure, pulse and the fetal heart and uterine contractions, pregnancy related apps for smartphones and foetal Dopplers sourced by women themselves to help them decide when to seek urgent medical help. Recent reviews, however, have highlighted the need for further multidisciplinary research into how these work in practice.

An overview of the research study

Our research will focus on the relatively unexplored area of women’s interaction with and use of self-tracking digital technologies in practice, and how this shapes clinical encounters and decision making. The team will undertake a narrative review of the sociological, medical and communication literature to see how women mediate diagnostic work with self-monitoring digital technologies for potential life threatening pregnancy related complications.

Research Team

Nicola Mackintosh - SAPPHIRE, University of Leicester

Nervo Verdezoto - Department of Informatics, University of Leicester

Sarah Qian Gong - Department of Media and Communication,University of Leicester

 

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