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Accepted Paper:

A global technology for local biology: exploring the use of heart rate variability testing for autonomic imbalance in Taiwan  
Jia-shin Chen (National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University)

Short abstract:

Heart rate variability testing is used to validate the diagnosis of autonomic imbalance in Taiwan, but acceptance varies. The case study explores societal and scientific dynamics, illustrates glocalization, and prompts exploration of this global technology's role in local biology conditions.

Long abstract:

Heart rate variability (HRV) testing captures the fluctuations in heartbeats, generating parameters believed to mirror various aspects of autonomic nervous system activity. Widely integrated into smartwatches and clinical tools, it serves as an indicator of physiological functions in both healthy and unwell individuals. In Taiwan, HRV testing has been utilized within a context known as autonomic imbalance (AI), an unofficial diagnosis encompassing diverse medically unexplained symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, or other mental distresses. Some physicians employ HRV testing as 'scientific' evidence of AI's presence and pathology to categorize and tailor treatments for those deemed 'imbalanced.' However, the acceptance of this methodology varies significantly among patients and physicians. Despite its extensive usage in research and practical settings, HRV testing does not uniformly command the scientific credibility claimed for it. This case study offers an initial glimpse into the societal and scientific dynamics surrounding a biomedical test, illustrating the concept of glocalization. It prompts deeper exploration into how technology navigates, interprets, and reshapes by showcasing how a global technology both validates and disputes a condition rooted in local biology.

Traditional Open Panel P309
Governing biomedical tests: towards social studies of bio-medical testing?
  Session 1 Friday 19 July, 2024, -