Appropriation of digital tracking tools in an online weight loss community: Individual and shared experiences

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Ryan, Kathleen
Linehan, Conor
Dockray, Samantha
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Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
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Online health communities provide a space where people seek out and provide support for weight loss activities, including tracking. Our study examined the experiences of members of an online community (r/loseit on who posted about using digital tracking tools for weight loss. A targeted search garnered 379 public posts, which were analyzed using Thematic Analysis. Four themes reflected members’ individual and shared experiences: Tracking as gaining insight, Tracking as a vehicle of control, Confronting challenges in sustaining tracking and Teaching and learning the skills of tracking. We highlight complex socio-technical processes that members developed around tracking tools and discuss how knowledge of these appropriations can be applied to designing future user-centered tracking tools to support weight loss. We discuss how the social context of an online health community can shape both the usage of tracking tools and self-regulatory processes for health behaviour change.
Personal data , Tracking , Social media , Online communities , Weight loss , Qualitative methods
Ryan, K., Linehan, C. and Dockray, S. (2021) 'Appropriation of digital tracking tools in an online weight loss community: Individual and shared experiences', DIS '21: Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2021, USA, 28 June-2 July, pp. 999-1014. doi: 10.1145/3461778.3462092
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