Users' Willingness to Share Wearable Data with Their Health Insurance: A Quantitative Study on How Users Perceived Personal and Societal Benefits and Risks Influence their Willingness to Disclose Wearable Data to their Health Insurance

Helena Helgadottir & Rebecca Ann Leiss

Student thesis: Master thesis


As the use of sensor-based technology and processing of its data increases, various stakeholders are interested in accessing consumer data, including health insurances who are asking customers to share their wearable data in exchange for monetary benefits. Individuals undergo a complex decision-making process when assessing whether to share personal information. This has been found to be highly context specific and is currently understudied in the sensor and wearable context. Past studies focused on investigating how individuals consider personal consequences of data disclosure, but societal consequences were also identified as relevant within a sensor context. Therefore, this thesis attempts to answer how perceived personal and societal risks and benefits influence individuals’ willingness to disclose wearable data to their health insurance.
Building on the notion of a privacy calculus, a theoretical model was developed including the variables trust in requesting health insurance, privacy concerns, perceived personal benefits, perceived societal benefits, perceived personal risks, perceived societal risks, perceived control over data, perceived data representativeness and perceived data sensitivity, which are hypothesized to have direct or indirect effects on the dependent variable willingness to disclose wearable data to requesting health insurance.
The model was tested using PLS-SEM to analyze data collected through a scenario-based survey with 105 participants mainly from Denmark, Iceland and Germany. Perceived personal and societal risks and perceived societal benefits were found to not have a significant effect on willingness to disclose wearable data. Nevertheless, a privacy calculus applying in this context was confirmed as trust, perceived personal benefits and privacy concerns play a central role in influencing one’s willingness to disclose wearable data. Privacy concerns were reduced if individuals felt in control over their wearable data and its use but increased if the wearable data was perceived as sensitive. Therefore, we recommend health insurances to take measures to reduce consumers privacy concerns by collecting wearable data in a transparent and minimal way and to aim at increasing trust in them and their practices.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages86
SupervisorsChristiane Lehrer