pp 1–11 | Cite as

Promoting inequality? Self-monitoring applications and the problem of social justice

  • Katrin Paldan
  • Hanno Sauer
  • Nils-Frederic WagnerEmail author
Open Forum


When it comes to improving the health of the general population, mHealth technologies with self-monitoring and intervention components hold a lot of promise. We argue, however, that due to various factors such as access, targeting, personal resources or incentives, self-monitoring applications run the risk of increasing health inequalities, thereby creating a problem of social justice. We review empirical evidence for “intervention-generated” inequalities, present arguments that self-monitoring applications are still morally acceptable, and develop approaches to avoid the promotion of health inequalities through self-monitoring applications.


Health inequality Social inequality Social justice Health-monitoring Self-monitoring mHealth Persuasive technology Nudging Health literacy Health interventions Intervention-generated inequalities 



The authors would like to thank the reviewers and the editor for their helpful comments and suggestions.


This research is part of the PAnalytics Project, and was funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrin Paldan
    • 1
  • Hanno Sauer
    • 2
  • Nils-Frederic Wagner
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Abteilung für Informatik und Kognitionswissenschaft AG Interaktive Systeme, Fakultät für IngenieurswissenschaftenKompetenzzentrum Personal Analytics, Universität Duisburg-EssenDuisburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Duisburg-EssenDuisburgGermany

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