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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Apr 2022 - 6 May 2022

2022 Apr 29

Health Technol (Berl)

Evaluating value mediation in patients with chronic low-back pain using virtual reality: contributions for empirical research in Value Sensitive Design.


Smits M, van Goor H, Kallewaard J-W, Verbeek P-P, Ludden GDS
Health Technol (Berl). 2022 Apr 29:1-14.
PMID: 35505793.


Value Sensitive Design (VSD) is the most well-known method to consider values in design. It consists of three iterative phases of investigation: conceptual, empirical, and technical. Although the approach is promising, the role of empirical research remains unclear. We address two opportunities for extending the role of empirical research in VSD. First, we argue that empirical research enables us to identify values in context. Second, we explain that empirical research enables us to anticipate how technology mediates the values of users. We make our point by means of an empirical study in a real-life controlled experimental context into the value mediation of virtual reality (VR) in patients with chronic low-back pain. Using value-oriented semi-structured interviews with twenty patients, we first analyze what values these patients consider important, and how the values are experienced. The second set of interviews held after all patients used VR four weeks at home, aims to provide insight into value changes as mediated by VR. We end the article by a comparison of our empirical results with previous, often speculative, literature into values in VR. We show that empirical research benefits the VSD process by providing in-depth insight into the effects of context and technology on values and the ability to translate these insights into recommendations for more responsible design and implementation of the technology.