Arthritis is a chronic condition which impairs mobility and reduces the quality of life. A physically active lifestyle is crucial for the successful management of the disease. Pervasive technology such as activity trackers can make patients more aware of their physical activity (PA), and help clinicians in getting an objective view of their patients' lifestyles. We developed a web application called FitViz which gathers data from an arthritis patient's Fitbit device and allows his/her clinician to use this data in setting personalized goals for the patient. We conducted a pilot study with 20 patients (suffering from inflammatory or knee osteoarthritis arthritis) and 7 physiotherapists to test the feasibility of the application, and understand the experiences of the physiotherapists and the patients with using fitness tracker data for self-management of arthritis. 11 patient-participants and 7 physiotherapist participants were interviewed to share their experiences after using FitViz for a month. The patient-participants reported that the use of physical activity tracking (Fitbit and FitViz) increased physical activity awareness and helped in realistic goal-setting. Patients also expressed distrust in technology when their self-perception did not align with the gathered data. The physiotherapist-participants shared how the use of objective data allowed their conversations with the patients to be patient-driven and allowed goals to be realistic and data-driven. We also discovered how the use of objective data caused the patients to feel guilty, which has implications for the use of pervasive healthcare technology in clinical settings.
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Thesis advisor: Shaw, Chris
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