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Philosophical considerations of an Internet-enabled telephone and computer psychiatric symptom monitoring system: maintaining the balance between subjectivity and objectivity in research 

Philosophical considerations of an Internet-enabled telephone and computer psychiatric symptom monitoring system: maintaining the balance between subjectivity and objectivity in research
Chapter:
Philosophical considerations of an Internet-enabled telephone and computer psychiatric symptom monitoring system: maintaining the balance between subjectivity and objectivity in research
Source:
Philosophical Perspectives on Technology and Psychiatry
Author(s):

Karen Iseminger

and Dale Theobald

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199207428.003.0013

This chapter concerns a philosophical investigation of a technology-driven assessment of psychiatric symptoms of cancer patients in Indiana. Its purpose is to articulate the unobserved and unappreciated philosophical aspects of this technology-based evaluation of cancer patients’ lives. After some introductory comments about the need for research addressing symptom management for cancer patients, we will briefly describe community cancer care (CCC) and research we are conducting to investigate ways to lessen the symptom burden of cancer patients, including a description of how technology can assist researchers in obtaining data. We will discuss how philosophy assists in describing the depth of reflection required to represent patients’ experiences more accurately. Finally, we will offer two pragmatic examples of ways in which we can honor these philosophical concerns by incorporating qualitative data into our research and employing a nurse care manager, who takes an existential approach in assisting patients to add meaningful personal expression of their experiences to the numerical representation of their quality of life. Our discussion will show that although patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are necessary to test the effectiveness of treatment and to understand conditions, they remain insufficient to assess fully the existential concerns that patients may have. Our primary concern is that technology may fail to capture information crucial to medical treatment on a practical level; and on a philosophical level, it may objectify patients and their lived experience with cancer, thereby reducing their humanity.

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