Personal Health Record interfaces: A hermeneutic analysis

  • Gary Burnett Florida State University
  • Melinda Whetstone Florida State University
  • Paul T. Jaeger University of Maryland
Keywords: Personal Health Records, Interface Design, Cultural Hermeneutics


This study draws upon cultural hermeneutics to provide insight into the ways Personal Health Records (PHRs) project an information world related to health. Differences in PHRs can range from key variations in functionality to differences in how they make the experiences of users more akin to personal interactions than to clinical visits or impersonal e-commerce transactions. This study provides analyses of design and communication issues in three PHR Web sites, offering preliminary conclusions about the potential impact of differences in design and functionality, as well as the inclusiveness of these interfaces for populations traditionally underserved by technology design. Additionally, it undergirds its analyses with a theoretical approach rooted in the theory of Information Worlds, which suggests that each PHR interface projects a specific “information world” that both enables and constrains not only user options and activities, but also how users are able to understand the parameters of “health” itself. 

Author Biographies

Gary Burnett, Florida State University
Professor, School of Library and Information Studies
Melinda Whetstone, Florida State University
Ph.D. candidate, School of Library and Information Studies
Paul T. Jaeger, University of Maryland
Associate Professor, College of Information Studies
How to Cite
Burnett, G., Whetstone, M., & Jaeger, P. T. (2013). Personal Health Record interfaces: A hermeneutic analysis. First Monday, 18(8).