A Paper presented at MobiHealth 2014

‘What motivates the elderly to comprehensively promote their health behavior, and how a mobile technology based service should be designed to meet the needs of end-users?’: this was the main research question to be answered by three researcher from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Their study focused on the importance of involving elderly people in the content development of a health enhancing tablet-based service. Reija Kuoremäki, Marita Poskiparta and Pekka Neittaanmäkic presented their study at the 4th International Conference on Wireless Mobile Communication and Healthcare – ‘Transforming Healthcare through Innovations in Mobile and Wireless Technologies’ (MobiHealth 2014).

What was the main goal of the study? As confirmed by the researchers : “the aim of the present study is to develop a new mobile optimized client-server web-service without complicated extra devices for inexperienced technology users”. The goal was not only to increase health behaviors in elderly people but also to promote the use of digital services before impairments of aging.

They have studied the behavior of 19 people of 76.2 age on average, as a statistical sample. The data collection consisted in individual interviews for about 25-72 minutes about three specific themes: supporting health behavior, attitudes towards the use of technology, ideas for self-care service content. “By involving the end-users in the development process of a service, emerging attitudes towards utilizing technology and supporting health behavior can be taken into account in the development of the content of the service”, summarize the three researchers. Before the interviews, participants were asked to evaluate 12 self care service content illustrations proposed via tablet.

The interviews were semi structured by three mean steps:

  • During the first phase, the participants were asked what type of things could encourage participation in sports or taking responsibility of own well-being;
  • During the second phase, the participants were asked about their relationship with technology;
  • During the third phase, the content illustrations were presented to participants via a tablet device to let them easily evaluate the need and the readiness to use different service components and to test and show the use of the tablet computer.

Elderly had the opportunity to evaluate the content illustrations on a numerical scale (1 very poor – 5 very good) with the Mobile jQuery HTML–inquiry via a tablet computer. A good point was the fact that several individuals used computers, even if they were not familiar with tablet computer. Despite the fact they were not familiar with the touch screen, they felt quite confident and interested in using it and learning about it.

What are the main expectations for the future? As confirmed by the group of researchers: “To prevent digital divide and shrinking of the social life of the elderly, adequate services should be developed, and user involvement is critical in the developmental process. The next phase is to explore user experiences in a study with more participants. Based on these results, the development of the Vetreeni service will continue with superior knowledge and understanding of the wishes of the elderly”.

Read the full paper here.