Digital technologies as truth-bearers in health care

Ruth Bartlett, Andrew Balmer, Petula Brannelly

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In this study, we explore the idea of digital technologies as truth-bearers in health care and argue that devices like SenseCam, which facilitate reflection and memory recall, have a potentially vital role in healthcare situations when questions of veracity are at stake (e.g., when best interest decisions are being made). We discuss the role of digital technologies as truth-bearers in the context of nursing people with dementia, as this is one area of health care in which the topic of truth-telling has been hotly debated. People with dementia have been excluded from research studies and decisions that affect their lives because they are not regarded as truth-bearers—that is, as being capable of giving truthful accounts of their experiences. Also, considerable research has focused on the ethics of lying to and deceiving people with dementia. Given their increasing prominence in healthcare settings, there has been surprisingly little discussion of what role digital technologies might play in relation to these questions of truth and deception. Drawing on theories from science and technology studies (STS), we explore their possible future role in some of the truth-making processes of health care. In particular, we discuss the potential value of constraints on use of SenseCam to support the accounts of people with dementia as part of their care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNursing Philosophy
Early online date23 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • advocacy care
  • agency
  • dementia
  • technology
  • truth-bearing
  • truth-telling
  • lying
  • deception
  • care of older people

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Dementia@Manchester


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