Sorting Snorers: Straight Path to Treatment?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: F205
Oral Presentation
Bryn SPARKS , Victoria University of Wellington, Christchurch, New Zealand
Annemarie JUTEL , Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
The medical model can perpetuate and itself be perpetuated --or be challenged and subverted –by stereotypical conceptions encountered on the Internet.  In this rich case study of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), we examine internet searching as a complex actor-network comprised of actors and actants such as the searchers themselves, search engines, web-pages, and the organisations behind the pages, all contributing to lay pre-diagnosis of OSA.

Social preconceptions regarding typical OSA sufferers include age, gender, and weight. Overweight middle-aged men are expected to have sleep apnoea, whereas skinny young women are often not. Through situational analysis of the conceptual interactions between participants recruited on the basis of either being snorers, or being the partner of a snorer and website pages, websites, and website providers, the study closely examines the generative forces arising from engagement or ill-fit with the disease-based model as encountered during an internet search. Situational Analysis is used to model the actor-network on both individual and aggregated levels to gain insight into the complexity of the medicalisation of snoring and OSA and the role of the internet in this actor-network.

This paper examines the internet search as an emergent yet increasingly powerful and pervasive source of influence, shaping conceptions regarding who can snore, who can have OSA, and who and how therapies for snoring can be accessed.  Using Situational Analysis as a starting point, we have developed a novel data visualisation technique particularly suited to representation of both human and non-human actors and actants involved in the internet search and pre-diagnostic endeavour, and to visually represent conceptual tensions (medicalisation and non-medicalisation; snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea; male and female; old and young and so forth) within the overall actor-network.