The rise of digital health technologies is, for some, a panacea to many of the medical and public health challenges we face today. This is the first book to articulate a critical response to the techno-utopian and entrepreneurial vision of the digital health phenomenon. Deborah Lupton, internationally renowned for her scholarship on the sociocultural and political aspects of medicine and health as well as digital technologies, addresses a range of compelling issues about the interests digital health represents, and its unintended effects on patients, doctors and how we conceive of public health and healthcare delivery.
Bringing together social and cultural theory with empirical research, the book challenges apolitical approaches to examine the impact new technologies have on social justice, and the implication for social and economic inequalities. Lupton considers how self-tracking devices change the patient-doctor relationship, and how the digitisation and gamification of healthcare through apps and other software affects the way we perceive and respond to our bodies. She asks which commercial interests enable different groups to communicate more widely, and how the personal data generated from digital encounters are exploited. Considering the lived experience of digital health technologies, including their emotional and sensory dimensions, the book also assesses their broader impact on medical and public health knowledges, power relations and work practices.
Relevant to students and researchers interested in medicine and public health across sociology, psychology, anthropology, new media and cultural studies, as well as policy makers and professionals in the field, this is a timely contribution on an important issue.
'This book should be essential reading for all those interested in the future of health services. As Lupton argues, the widespread ‘techno-utopian’ vision of many proponents of the digital health revolution is at odds with what we know about the use of digital tools. Lupton presents a compelling argument for a critical approach to digital health studies, acknowledging that these technologies may bring great benefit, but also recognizing the challenges and constraints, and identifying a clear agenda for future work.' - John Powell, University of Oxford
'Lupton tracks the claims and fantasies that support the health and medical industrial complex. She shows how 'digital health' (just like health itself) is suffused with social, economic, gender and ethnic inequalities, and she calls for a stronger critical programme of study to address the prevailing techno-utopian discourse around digital health.' - Maggie Mort, Lancaster University
'Why have digital health technologies emerged in their current form? What expectations – realistic and unrealistic – do we place on them? Whose interests do they serve (and whose voices do they silence)? What alternative solutions do they overshadow? No scholar is better placed to address these important questions than Deborah Lupton.' - Trish Greenhalgh, University of Oxford
'It is not enough to read Deborah Luptons’ book only once. The author reports on every mentionable study in the field, mostly from the Western world and Australia, her home country, without neglecting, however, the specific issue of digital health in developing countries. Thanks to its huge empirical material, the series of examples, and evidence standing behind every thesis she formulates, this book needs to be invoked over and over again.' - Ágnes SÁNTHA, Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Social Analysis
'The sheer scale of technological interventions in healthcare that Deborah Lupton has managed to survey in this timely book is astonishing. From the wearables used by individuals to monitor their health statistics, to the social media accounts used by cosmetic surgeons to publicise their skills, to the big data interventions into public health promotion, it seems that the digital has become enmeshed throughout all levels of the entire health system.' - Raelene Wilding, Health Sociology Review
Introduction. 1. Theoretical Concepts 2. The Digitised Healthy Citizen 3. Digitised Embodiment 4. Big Digital Health Data 5. The Social Structuring of Digital Health Use 6. The Lived Experience of Digital Health 7. Digitised Medical and Health Work. Concluding Comments
The Routledge Critical Approaches to Health series aims to present critical, inter-disciplinary books around psychological, social and cultural issues related to health. Each volume in the series provides a critical approach to a particular issue or important topic, and is of interest and relevance to students and practitioners across the social sciences. The series is produced in association with the International Society of Critical Health Psychology (ISCHP).