Health & Society

Mobile health devices represent a major new industry for the tech industry to develop and for
consumers to adopt. Most of us in this class probably have at least one device that is capable of
collecting digital health data. Device users can upload their data to the cloud and share it with
their doctors, families, friends, or online community.
There are clear benefits to these devices. However, the critical questions from a medical
sociology perspective are not yet fully developed and the consequences of such a popular trend
remain unclear. Using the readings and lessons from Weeks 5-7, answer the following questions
in a 3-4 page essay. Be sure to fully answer each question and provide at least 3 outside
citations to support your arguments.
1. What medical problems might mobile health (mHealth) devices solve? Which problems
do they address and how do mHealth seek to solve them?
2. Some medical sociologists might view the development of mHealth devices as the
medicalization of a common consumer good.
a. What does medicalization mean in this context?
b. What evidence of medicalization might we observe to support this argument?
i. Identify two (2) examples of medicalization related to mHealth devices.
3. One of the main concerns about the effects of medicalizing mobile devices is the erosion
of privacy and the extension of medical authority further into our personal lives.
a. What are two (2) examples of how mHealth devices might raise questions of the
privacy of health information and what are the implications of each?
4. Finally, a ‘big’ question regarding mHealth devices is the individualization of medicine.
Many of the lessons in this course emphasize the important of a public health, or
community medicine, approach to preventing disease and illness.
a. How might mHealth devices ‘individualize’ medical practice?
b. And what are the implications of that trend?
For this writing assignment, you are required to provide at least 3 references to support your
work. These references cannot include your textbook. Instead, I expect you to find materials
that come from reliable sources. I will allow news articles, but they have to be credible. How do
we know that they are legitimate?
Credible sources will be:
• In-depth – articles should be more than multiple paragraphs and instead include
references themselves to data, experts, or other research efforts.
• Intended to inform. Credible references are not meant for entertainment or click-bait.
Instead, they are meant to educate an audience on an issue.
• Purposeful – credible references should provide information that can be used to make
decisions, potentially in policy, treatment, or research
Examples include:
• News articles. I care less about political leaning here, but more about credibility. Left,
right, neutral – I am not judging politics. Instead, if I check on a reference I want to see
that the material is informed by legitimate research and science.
• Scientific articles. PubMed is a great place to start looking. Peer-review is important.
• Websites – places like the CDC, WHO, the UN, or other nonprofits are valid. Wikipedia is
Online Information to Review:

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