The desktop, or the top of the desk? The relative usefulness of household features for personal health information management

Appl Ergon. 2020 Jan;82:102912. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2019.102912. Epub 2019 Aug 17.


Sixty percent of the US population manages at least one chronic illness. For these patients, personal health information management (PHIM) is an integral part of daily life, and largely occurs within the home. However, the way in which the home supports PHIM has not been systematically investigated. The present study examined how members of the diabetic population use features of the home environment to support PHIM. Participants (N = 60) explored a simulated home environment, the VR CAVE, and identified the most useful features for performing three examples of PHIM tasks. The computer was perceived as the most useful feature for PHIM. However, perceived usefulness of features varied based on the PHIM task performed and the rooms in which features appeared. We conclude that a detailed study of the affordances of features is necessary to ease the burden of managing chronic illness, particularly diabetes mellitus, in the sociotechnical system of the home.

Keywords: Chronic illness; Personal health information management; Sociotechnical systems; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Computer Simulation
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Information Management / methods*
  • Health Records, Personal / psychology*
  • Household Articles*
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings*
  • Male
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • United States
  • Virtual Reality