Introduction: In the context of mental health, obtaining adequate care requires accurate information sharing across diverse actors, institutions and technologies. Yet, information sharing is often complicated by the vast range of institutional structures involved, creating multiple constraints for both providers and care-seekers.
Method: This study seeks to analyse these obstacles to information sharing through an exploration of provider experiences within a local mental health care system. We conducted sixteen semi-structured interviews with mental health care providers in Philadelphia, USA in order to provide a localized portrait of obstacles to information sharing related to mental health care.
Analysis: Conceptually, we expand on Balka and Star’s (2016) framework of individuals’ shadow bodies to understand how information is shared and fractured within the scope of mental health.
Results: We outline three dimensions of (or obstacles to) information sharing: physical spaces, inter-institutional referrals, and the influence of external institutions. Together, these factors decontextualise and scatter information in a way that complicates the provision and quality of care.
Conclusion: Our paper concludes with a discussion of how our findings can inform information science theory, the design of health data systems and policy related to personal health information.