Currently accepted at: JMIR Aging
Date Submitted: Mar 22, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: Mar 24, 2018 - May 1, 2018
Date Accepted: Dec 27, 2018
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Older adults’ attitudes toward ambulatory technology to support monitoring and coaching of healthy behaviors
Prevention of functional decline demands a holistic perspective of health management. Older adults are becoming avid users of technology; however, technology is not yet largely used in supporting self-management of health in daily life. Previous research suggests that the low adherence to these technologies is likely to be associated with the fact that opinions and wishes of the older population are not always taken into consideration when designing new technology.
To investigate the wishes and expectations of older adults living independently regarding technology to support healthy behaviors, addressing nutrition, physical and cognitive function, and well-being.
In-depth semi-structured interviews were performed with twelve older adults addressing four themes: (1) current practices in health management, (2) attitudes towards using technology to support health management, (3) wishes from technology, and (4) change in attitudes after actual use of technology. The fourth theme was investigated with a follow-up interview after participants had used a step counter, a smart scale and a smartphone application for one month. Data collected was analyzed using inductive thematic analysis.
Participants were active in self-managing their health and foresaw an added-value on using technology to support them in adopting healthier behaviors in everyday life. Attitudes and wishes differed considerably per health domain, being cognitive function the most sensitive topic. Fears from technology mentioned were: attention theft, replacement of human touch, and disuse of existing abilities. Post-interviews suggest that attitudes towards technology improve after a short period of use.
Technology to support aging in place must target health literacy, allow personalization in the design but also in the use of the technology, and tackle existing fears concerning technology. Further research should investigate the effect of these strategies on the adherence to technology to be used in daily life. We outline a set of recommendations of interest to those involved in developing and implementing technology to the support of aging in place, focusing on acceptance, barriers and ethical concerns.
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