Scientific studies of decision-making have established that concepts such as urgency and risk vary widely among individuals and across cultures. Medical decision-making depends on how associated concepts are interpreted by both the sick and their caretakers. This research examines how distinct cultural notions of time and timescale shape medical decision making, using diabetes-related complications as a case study to question how interpretations of time influence health decisions and outcomes. The research is informed by and advances anthropological theories of temporality. The project also trains U.S. undergraduate students.
This project will investigate how social, cultural, and demographic factors affect notions of time and how these, in turn, shape medical risk. Diabetes complications often begin with mundane symptoms that rapidly develop into dramatic, life changing events. Using interviews and participant observation, this study examines how people living with diabetes seek care from multiple sources and in relation to acute versus chronic manifestations of the disease. Patient-centered data will further be contextualized by interviews with healthcare providers and participant observation in diabetes clinics. The researcher will provide evidence of 1) why and when specific providers or sets of providers are selected; and 2) how these caretakers' notions of time interact with diabetes complications to affect medical decision-making and outcomes. Understanding diverse stakeholder perspectives will inform theories of medical decision-making by shifting the focus from the individual life-course to incorporate multi-generational and community perspectives.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.