Older Adults’ Attitudes Toward Ambulatory Technology to Support Monitoring and Coaching of Healthy Behaviors: Qualitative Study

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    Background: 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.
    Objectives: The aim of this study was Tto investigate the attitudes of older adults living independently regarding technology to support healthy behaviors, addressing nutrition, physical and cognitive function, and well-being.
    Methods: In-depth semi-structured interviews were performed with twelve 12 older adults addressing four 4 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 mobile smartphone application app for one 1 month. Data collected were was analyzed using inductive thematic analysis.
    Results: 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, with being cognitive function being the most sensitive topic. Fears from technology mentioned were: attention theft, replacement of human touch, and disuse of existing abilities. Post-study interviews suggest that attitudes towards technology improve after a short period of use.
    Conclusions: 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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere10476
    Number of pages12
    JournalJMIR Aging
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2019


    • Wearable technology
    • Telemedicine
    • Independent living
    • Healthy aging
    • Nutritional status
    • Cognitive function
    • Physical activity


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