Diabetes Management Application; Social and Cultural Factors that Influence Health Technology

Dessai, Shivali, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Elliott, Travis, University of Virginia
Campbell, Brad

More than 9 percent of people in the world suffer from diabetes. Both my STS research paper and technical report focused on diabetes and health tracking technology but my STS paper focused on a broader view of health tracking technology and what influences it while my technical report focused on a health tracking technology specifically for people suffering from diabetes. My technical project was building a diabetes management application that helps users track their condition. There are other kinds of diabetes management applications on the market but what sets my project apart is the data engineering aspect that makes recommendations to the users based on their past activity that will be integrated into it. My STS research paper looked into other health tracking technologies and discussed what social and cultural aspects influence it. From both of these research papers, I hope to enrich my Computer Science degree with technical and nontechnical research in the health and computer science field concerning diabetes.
In my technical research, I learned more about diabetes and how it is a chronic disease that cannot be cured. I also found out information on what makes diabetes patients' lives difficult. They have to always be monitoring their health and sometimes it can feel like their disease is taking over their lives. Having an application that tracks everything can be very useful, especially for people who tend to forget their health statistics. For my project, I developed a diabetes management application that keeps track of all these things such as insulin, glucose, food, water and exercise for the users so that they don’t have to constantly remember and so that they can reduce the risk of having too low insulin or too high glucose levels. My application will not only help those who use it, but will also be a guidance for people trying to build similar applications.
For my STS paper, I researched the social and cultural influences that affect health tracking technology. I looked at what causes these sorts of technologies to be built and what aspects of society call for the need of such technologies. In my research I used the social construction of technology STS framework to support my findings. Disease and sickness has always been prevalent in society and people strive to stay healthy - it is an innate quality of organisms to try to stay alive for as long as possible and evolution has supported this phenomenon through survival of the fittest. There are so many new health tracking applications and technologies like the apple watch and fitbit that are widely used by the population. These technologies help people stay healthy by monitoring their health. My research looked at different stakeholder perspectives and how society makes the lives of healthy people easier which in turn creates a market for such technologies.
Over the past year, I simultaneously did research on the social and cultural influences of health tracking technology while building my own health tracking technology, a diabetes tracking application. Technology is always evolving and it is beneficial to take advantage of technology and build products that help people live easier lives.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
computer science, health, health technology, diabetes, social construction of technology

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Brad Campbell
STS Advisor: S. Travis Elliott

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