Aarathi Prasad. Exposing Privacy Concerns in mHealth Data Sharing. Masters Thesis, Dartmouth College Computer Science, February 2012. Available as Technical Report TR2012-711.

Abstract: Mobile health (mHealth) has become important in the field of healthcare information technology, as patients begin to use mobile devices to record their daily activities and vital signs. These devices can record personal health information even outside the hospital setting, while the patients are at home or at their workplace. However, the devices might record sensitive information that might not be relevant for medical purposes and in some cases may be misused. Patients need expressive privacy controls so that they can trade potential health benefits of the technology with the privacy risks. To provide such privacy controls, it is important to understand what patients feel are the benefits and risks associated with the technology and what controls they want over the information.

We conducted focus groups to understand the privacy concerns that patients have when they use mHealth devices. We conducted a user study to understand how willing patients are to share their personal health information that was collected using an mHealth device. To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first study that explores users' privacy concerns by giving them the opportunity to actually share the information collected about them using mHealth devices. We found that patients tend to share more information with third parties than the public and prefer to keep certain information from their family and friends. Finally, based on these discoveries, we propose some guidelines to developing defaults for sharing settings in mHealth systems.

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See also later version prasad:fitbit.