Sensing Workplace Stress While Keeping Eye on Privacy

What the actual boundaries are there, or what it looks like when you introduce these new technologies is unknown. So, they need to try and decide what those norms might be to determine whether this information flow is appropriate in the first place.

Researchers addressed these issues through a study involving resident physicians at an urban hospital in New York City. After hourlong interviews with residents on Zoom, the residents and their attendings were given mockups of a Resident Wellbeing Tracker, a dashboard with behavioral data on residents’ sleep, activity, and time working; self-reported data on residents’ levels of burnout; and a text box where residents could characterize their well-being.


The residents were open to the idea of using technology to enhance well-being. They were also very interested in the privacy question and how they could use technologies like this to achieve those positive ends while still balancing privacy concerns.

The study featured two intersecting use cases: self-reflection, in which the residents view their behavioral data, and data sharing, in which the same information is shared with their attendings and program directors for purposes of intervention.

Among the key findings: Residents were hesitant to share their data without the assurance that supervisors would use it to enhance their well-being. There is also a question of anonymity, which was more likely with more participation. But greater participation would hurt the potential usefulness of the program since supervisors would not be able to identify which residents were struggling.

This process of sharing personal data is somewhat complicated. There is a lot of interesting continuing work that we are involved in that looks at this question of privacy, and how you present yourself through your data in more-traditional mental health care settings.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for further work establishing new norms around data-driven workplace well-being management solutions that better center workers’ needs, and provide protections for the workers they intend to support.

Source: Eurekalert

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