Engaging elderly people in telemedicine through gamification

Frederiek de Vette, Monique Tabak, Marit Dekker-van Weering, Miriam Vollenbroek-Hutten

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    52 Citations (Scopus)
    495 Downloads (Pure)


    BACKGROUND: Telemedicine can alleviate the increasing demand for elderly care caused by the rapidly aging population. However, user adherence to technology in telemedicine interventions is low and decreases over time. Therefore, there is a need for methods to increase adherence, specifically of the elderly user. A strategy that has recently emerged to address this problem is gamification. It is the application of game elements to nongame fields to motivate and increase user activity and retention.

    OBJECTIVE: This research aims to (1) provide an overview of existing theoretical frameworks for gamification and explore methods that specifically target the elderly user and (2) explore user classification theories for tailoring game content to the elderly user. This knowledge will provide a foundation for creating a new framework for applying gamification in telemedicine applications to effectively engage the elderly user by increasing and maintaining adherence.

    METHODS: We performed a broad Internet search using scientific and nonscientific search engines and included information that described either of the following subjects: the conceptualization of gamification, methods to engage elderly users through gamification, or user classification theories for tailored game content.

    RESULTS: Our search showed two main approaches concerning frameworks for gamification: from business practices, which mostly aim for more revenue, emerge an applied approach, while academia frameworks are developed incorporating theories on motivation while often aiming for lasting engagement. The search provided limited information regarding the application of gamification to engage elderly users, and a significant gap in knowledge on the effectiveness of a gamified application in practice. Several approaches for classifying users in general were found, based on archetypes and reasons to play, and we present them along with their corresponding taxonomies. The overview we created indicates great connectivity between these taxonomies.

    CONCLUSIONS: Gamification frameworks have been developed from different backgrounds-business and academia-but rarely target the elderly user. The effectiveness of user classifications for tailored game content in this context is not yet known. As a next step, we propose the development of a framework based on the hypothesized existence of a relation between preference for game content and personality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere9
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of medical internet research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2015


    • Personality
    • Telemedicine
    • Older adults
    • player type
    • EWI-26597
    • Adherence
    • Classification
    • Framework
    • Gamification
    • Engagement
    • EHealth
    • Elderly
    • METIS-315110
    • IR-98839


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