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Journal Description

JMIR Aging (JA, Founding Editor-in-chief: Jing Wang, Professor and Vice Dean for Research, Hugh Roy Cullen Professor, UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing, San Antonio, TX, USA) is a new sister journal of JMIR (the leading open-access journal in health informatics (Impact Factor 2017: 4.671), focusing on technologies, medical devices, apps, engineering, informatics applications and patient education for medicine and nursing, education, preventative interventions and clinical care / home care for elderly populations. In addition, aging-focused big data analytics using data from electronic health record systems, health insurance databases, federal reimbursement databases (e.g. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid), and other large databases are also welcome.  

As open access journal we are read by clinicians, nurses/allied health professionals, informal caregivers and patients alike and have (as all JMIR journals) a focus on readable and applied science reporting the design and evaluation of health innovations and emerging technologies. We publish original research, viewpoints, and reviews (both literature reviews and medical device/technology/app reviews).

During a limited period of time, there are no fees to publish in this journal. Articles are carfully copyedited and XML-tagged, ready for submission in PubMed Central.

Be a founding author of this new journal and submit your paper today!

 

Recent Articles:

  • Source: Max Pixel; Copyright: Max Pixel; URL: https://www.maxpixel.net/Vintage-Couple-Strangers-Old-People-Park-Grunge-450742; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Influence of Anthropometrics on Step-Rate Thresholds for Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity in Older Adults: Scientific Modeling Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Adults and older adults are recommended to engage in 150 minutes of moderate (MPA) to vigorous (VPA) aerobic physical activity (MVPA) per week, with the heuristic message of 3000 steps in 30 minutes (100 steps per minute [spm]). However, this message is based on adult populations, with a paucity of research on step-rate thresholds that correspond to absolute MVPA (moderate=3 metabolic equivalents [METs], vigorous=6 METs) and relative MVPA (moderate=40% estimated METmax, vigorous=60% estimated METmax) in older persons, who have lower stride lengths and a lower exercise capacity. Also, there is a need to consider the influence of anthropometric differences when quantifying the relationship between step rate and intensity-related physical activity. Objective: This study assessed absolute and relative MVPA step-rate thresholds and anthropometric factors (ie, height, leg length, and body mass index [BMI]) in older adults. Methods: Nineteen older adults (7 females; age 69 years, SD 2, BMI 26 kg/m2, SD 4) completed a staged treadmill walking protocol: six minutes at 2.4, 3.2, 4.0, 5.6, and 6.4 km/h. Steps were manually counted and volume rate of oxygen consumed (VO2) was measured via indirect calorimetry. Aerobic fitness was estimated via the submaximal single-stage treadmill protocol. Results: When BMI was considered, mixed effects modeling revealed absolute and relative MPA step-rate thresholds of 108 spm and 117 spm, respectively. Absolute and relative VPA corresponded to step rates of 135 spm and 132 spm, respectively. Neither height nor leg length improved the ability of the model to predict stepping cadence from METs. Conclusions: In general, older adults need to walk faster than 100 spm (ie, approximately 110 spm) to reach MPA and in excess of approximately 130 spm to achieve VPA, depending on BMI status. Health care professionals and researchers should adjust cadence-based recommendations for differences in BMI in their older patients and consider using relative intensity to most appropriately tailor their physical activity recommendations.

  • Schematic ground plan as basis for the evaluation of ultrasonic whistles. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://aging.jmir.org/2018/2/e11825/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Ambient Assisted Living as Support for Aging in Place: Quantitative Users’ Acceptance Study on Ultrasonic Whistles

    Abstract:

    Background: Given the fact of an aging society, new supply measures and living concepts are needed, especially as health impairments along with care dependency increase with age. As many elderly people wish to stay at home for as long as possible, ambient assisted living (AAL) represents a support for aging in place. Objective: AAL combines medical and care technology within living environments and is, therefore, a promising approach to cope with demographic change in terms of fast-growing care needs and fewer skilled workers. Ultrasonic whistles represent one innovative technical possibility for such supportive housing solutions. Central fields of application are home automation, emergency service, and positioning. As AAL technologies affect sensitive areas of life, it is of great interest under which conditions they are accepted or rejected, taking individual user requirements into account. Hence, the aim of this study was to investigate users’ perception and evaluation of ultrasonic whistles. Methods: In this study, we examined the acceptance of ultrasonic whistles in home care by function and room using a Web-based questionnaire. Besides an evaluation of the overall usefulness, we focused on the intention to use ultrasonic whistles; 270 participants assessed home automation, emergency service, and positioning as specific functions of ultrasonic whistles. Furthermore, bathroom, bedroom, and living room were evaluated as specific usage locations (rooms). With regard to the user’s perspective, the focus was set on age and attitudes toward aging of care receivers. Results: This study revealed a significant influence of function (F2,269=60.444; P<.001), room (F2,269=41.388; P<.001), and the interaction of function and room (F4,269=8.701; P<.001) on the acceptance of ultrasonic whistles. The use of emergency services within the bathroom represented the most accepted alternative, whereas positioning within the living room received the comparably lowest evaluations. Although user diversity played a minor role for acceptance overall, the assessment of single applications differed among user groups, particularly with regard to age differences (F20,500=1.988; P<.01) in the evaluation of specific installation options such as automated doors. Conclusions: The study revealed profound insights into the user-centered assessment of ultrasonic whistles in home care and discovered function and room as influencing acceptance parameters. Concerning user characteristics, age, and attitude toward aging partly affected these evaluations, forming the basis for and showing the importance of further investigations in this context.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: US Army Africa; URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usarmyafrica/4601685875/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Mobile Technology for Healthy Aging Among Older HIV-Positive Black Men Who Have Sex with Men: Qualitative Study

    Abstract:

    Background: People living with HIV are living longer in the United States as a result of antiretroviral therapy. Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionally affected by HIV and have low rates of engagement in HIV care and treatment. Mobile technology holds promise as an intervention platform; however, little is known regarding its use among older black MSM living with HIV. Objective: The goal of this study was to explore mobile technology use and narratives of aging with HIV among older black MSM to inform mobile health intervention development. Methods: A total of 12 black MSM living with HIV, aged 50 years or older, completed in-person, semistructured interviews exploring the issues of aging, HIV care engagement, and mobile technology use. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative research methods. Results: Men appreciated having survived the AIDS epidemic, but some expressed discomfort and ambivalence toward aging. Men described various levels of engagement in HIV care and treatment; challenges included social isolation and need for support that was not focused on HIV. Almost all described using mobile technology to engage in health care, whereas some referenced important barriers and challenges to technology use. Conclusions: Findings highlighted a high level of interest toward a mobile technology–based intervention targeting older black men but also identified barriers and challenges to using mobile technology for health care engagement. Mobile technology is well incorporated into older black MSM’s lives and shows potential as an intervention platform for addressing aging issues to enhance engagement in HIV care and treatment.

  • Alzheimer-related dementia. Source: Flickr; Copyright: McBeth; URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcbeth/9741280/; License: Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND).

    Analyzing Twitter as a Platform for Alzheimer-Related Dementia Awareness: Thematic Analyses of Tweets

    Abstract:

    Background: Dementia is a prevalent disorder among adults and often subjects an individual and his or her family. Social media websites may serve as a platform to raise awareness for dementia and allow researchers to explore health-related data. Objective: The objective of this study was to utilize Twitter, a social media website, to examine the content and location of tweets containing the keyword “dementia” to better understand the reasons why individuals discuss dementia. We adopted an approach that analyzed user location, user category, and tweet content subcategories to classify large publicly available datasets. Methods: A total of 398 tweets were collected using the Twitter search application programming interface with the keyword “dementia,” circulated between January and February 2018. Twitter users were categorized into 4 categories: general public, health care field, advocacy organization, and public broadcasting. Tweets posted by “general public” users were further subcategorized into 5 categories: mental health advocate, affected persons, stigmatization, marketing, and other. Placement into the categories was done through thematic analysis. Results: A total of 398 tweets were written by 359 different screen names from 28 different countries. The largest number of Twitter users were from the United States and the United Kingdom. Within the United States, the largest number of users were from California and Texas. The majority (281/398, 70.6%) of Twitter users were categorized into the “general public” category. Content analysis of tweets from the “general public” category revealed stigmatization (113/281, 40.2%) and mental health advocacy (102/281, 36.3%) as the most common themes. Among tweets from California and Texas, California had more stigmatization tweets, while Texas had more mental health advocacy tweets. Conclusions: Themes from the content of tweets highlight the mixture of the political climate and the supportive network present on Twitter. The ability to use Twitter to combat stigma and raise awareness of mental health indicates the benefits that can potentially be facilitated via the platform, but negative stigmatizing tweets may interfere with the effectiveness of this social support.

  • The Caregiver App (montage). Source: The Authors / Max Pixel; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://aging.jmir.org/2018/2/e12274/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Commercially Available Mobile Apps for Caregivers of People With Alzheimer Disease or Other Related Dementias: Systematic Search

    Abstract:

    Background: More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for persons with Alzheimer disease or other related dementias (ADRD). While there is good evidence to suggest that caregivers benefit from psychosocial interventions, these have primarily been delivered via face-to-face individual or group format. Alternatively, offering electronic health (eHealth) interventions may assist caregivers in providing quality care while remaining in good health. Research to date has generated little knowledge about what app features support ADRD caregivers’ behavioral changes and how developers might optimize features over the long term. Objective: There is an evident knowledge gap in the current landscape of commercially available apps, their integration of behavioral techniques, content focus, and compliance with usability recommendations. This paper systematically reviews and inventories the apps caregivers might typically be exposed to and determines the support integrated into the apps and their functionality for older adults. Methods: The search strategy was designed to mimic typical Web-based health information-seeking behavior for adults. Apps were included based on their explicit focus on ADRD caregiver knowledge and skill improvement. Two coders with expertise in behavioral interventions and eHealth pilot-tested the data extraction. One coder retained app characteristics and design features. Techniques used to promote change were determined, and 2 questions from the Mobile App Rating Scale were used to assess the app credibility and evidence base. Content topics were evaluated using a thematic framing technique, and each app was assessed using a usability heuristic checklist. Results: The search results generated 18 unique apps that met the inclusion criteria. Some apps were unavailable, and only 8 unique apps were reviewed. Of the 8, 7 (88%) apps did not state which scientific orientation was followed to develop their content. None of the apps made clinical claims of improving caregivers’ and care recipients’ overall health. All apps relied on textual information to disseminate their contents. None of the apps was trialed and evidence based. Apps included on average 7 out of 10 behavioral change techniques, 5 out of 10 C.A.R.E. (Caregivers, Aspirations, Realities, and Expectations) features, and 10 out of 18 features on the usability heuristics checklist. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that caregivers are likely to discover apps that are not actually accessible and have low or no evidence base. Apps were found to be largely static, text-based informational resources, and few supported behaviors needed to maintain caregivers’ health. While apps may be providing a high volume of information, caregivers must still navigate what resources they need with limited guidance. Finally, the commercial marketplace is addressing some of the major usability elements, but many design elements are not addressed.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: agilemktg1; URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/68716695@N06/29609195382; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    A Groupware Tool to Facilitate Caregiving for Home-Dwelling Frail Older Persons in the Netherlands: Mixed-Methods Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Collaboration among informal and formal caregivers in a mixed care network of home-dwelling elderly may benefit from using a groupware app for digital networked communication (DNC). Objective: This study aimed to describe and explain differences in the use and evaluation of a DNC app by members of the care network and to come up with a list of conditions that facilitate (or restrict) the implementation of a DNC app by a home care organization. Methods: A pilot study collected information on digital communication in 7 care networks of clients of a home care organization in the Netherlands. Semistructured interviews with 4 care recipients, 7 informal carers (of which 3 spoke on behalf of the care receiver as well on account of receivers’ suffering from dementia), 3 district nurses, 5 auxiliary nurses, and 3 managers were conducted 3 times in a period of 6 months. In addition, we observed relevant workshops initiated by the home care organization and studied log-in data created by the users of the DNC app. Results: The qualitative data and the monthly retrieved quantitative log-in data revealed 3 types of digital care networks: arranging the care network, discuss the care network, and staying connected network. Differences between network types were attributed to health impairment and digital illiteracy of the care recipients, motivation of informal caregivers, and commitment of formal caregivers. The easy availability of up-to-date information, the ability to promote a sense of safety for the carers, and short communication lines in case of complex care situations were positively evaluated. Conclusions: It is concluded that digital communication is beneficial for organizing and discussing the care within a care network. More research is needed to study its impact on care burden of informal carers, on quality of care, and on quality of life of home-dwelling frail older adults.

  • The photo story intervention via tablet. Source: Pxhere; Copyright: Pxhere; URL: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/773443; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Testing a Photo Story Intervention in Paper Versus Electronic Tablet Format Compared to a Traditional Brochure Among Older Adults in Germany: Randomized...

    Abstract:

    Background: To increase effective communication in primary care consultations among older adults in Germany, the photo story is considered to be a useful tool based on Bandura’s social cognitive theory. With information technology helping to increase effective communication, the use of tablets is gaining attention in health care settings, especially with older adults. However, the effectiveness of tablet technology and photo stories has rarely been tested. Objective: The aim is to compare the effectiveness of a photo story intervention to a traditional brochure. Both were delivered either in paper or tablet format. Methods: A trial was conducted with 126 older adults, aged 50 years and older, who were approached and recruited by researchers and administrative staff from senior day care, doctors in rehabilitation centers, and trainers in sports clubs in Germany. Open and face-to-face assessment methodologies were used. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four intervention conditions: traditional brochure in paper format (condition 1) and tablet format (condition 2), and photo story in paper format (condition 3) and tablet format (condition 4). Each participant received a questionnaire and either the traditional brochure or photo story in a paper or tablet version. To evaluate the effectiveness of each intervention, participants completed evaluation questionnaires before and after each intervention. The second part of the questionnaire measured different indicators of health literacy, communication skills, health measurements, and possible underlying mechanisms. Results: Compared to the traditional brochure, participants considered the photo story easier to understand (t124=2.62, P=.01) and more informative (t124=–2.17, P=.03). Participants preferred the paper format because they found it less monotonous (t124=–3.05, P=.003), less boring (t124=–2.65, P=.009), and not too long (t124=–2.26, P=.03) compared to the tablet format. Among all conditions, the traditional brochure with a tablet (condition 2) was also perceived as more monotonous (mean 3.07, SD 1.08), boring (mean 2.77, SD 1.19), and too long to read (mean 2.50, SD 1.33) in comparison to the traditional brochure in paper format (condition 1). Moreover, the participants scored significantly higher on self-referencing on the traditional brochure in paper format (condition 1) than tablet format for both types of the brochure (conditions 2 and 4). Conclusions: Traditional brochures on a tablet seem to be the least effective communication option in primary care consultations among all conditions for older adults. The findings might be specific for the current generation of older adults in Germany and need to be replicated in other countries with larger sample sizes. Although information technology brings advantages, such as effective interventions in different fields and settings, it may also come with several disadvantages, such as technical requirements of the users and devices. These should be considered when integrating information technology into wider situations and populations. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02502292; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02502292 (Archived by Webcite at http://www.webcitation.org/747jdJ8pU)

  • Source: Pixabay; Copyright: Claudia Peters; URL: https://pixabay.com/en/old-people-couple-together-616718/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Evaluating the Use of Mobile Health Technology in Older Adults With Heart Failure: Mixed-Methods Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Heart failure (HF) is associated with high rates of hospitalizations, morbidity, mortality, and costs. Remote patient monitoring (mobile health, mHealth) shows promise in improving self-care and HF management, thus increasing quality of care while reducing hospitalizations and costs; however, limited information exists regarding perceptions of older adults with HF about mHealth use. Objective: This study aimed to compare perspectives of older adults with HF who were randomized to either (1) mHealth equipment connected to a 24-hour call center, (2) digital home equipment, or (3) standard care, with regard to ease and satisfaction with equipment, provider communication and engagement, and ability to self-monitor and manage their disease. Methods: We performed a pilot study using a mixed-methods descriptive design with pre- and postsurveys, following participants for 12 weeks. We augmented these data with semistructured qualitative interviews to learn more about feasibility, satisfaction, communication, and self-management. Results: We enrolled 28 patients with HF aged 55 years and above, with 57% (16/28) male, 79% (22/28) non-Hispanic white, and with multiple comorbid conditions. At baseline, 50% (14/28) rated their health fair or poor and 36% (10/28) and 25% (7/28) were very often/always frustrated and discouraged by their health. At baseline, 46% (13/28) did not monitor their weight, 29% (8/28) did not monitor their blood pressure, and 68% (19/28) did not monitor for symptoms. Post intervention, 100% of the equipment groups home monitored daily. For technology anxiety, 36% (10/28) indicated technology made them nervous, and 32% (9/28) reported fear of technology, without significant changes post intervention. Technology usability post intervention scored high (91/100), reflecting ease of use. A majority indicated that a health care provider should be managing their health, and 71% reported that one should trust and not question the provider. Moreover, 57% (16/28) believed it was better to seek professional help than caring for oneself. Post intervention, mHealth users relied more on themselves, which was not mirrored in the home equipment or standard care groups. Participants were satisfied with communication and engagement with providers, yet many described access problems. Distressing symptoms were unpredictable and prevailed over the 12 weeks with 79 provider visits and 7 visits to emergency departments. The nurse call center received 872 readings, and we completed 289 telephone calls with participants. Narrative data revealed the following main themes: (1) traditional communication and engagement with providers prevailed, delaying access to care; (2) home monitoring with technology was described as useful, and mHealth users felt secure knowing that someone was observing them; (3) equipment groups felt more confident in self-monitoring and managing; and finally, (4) uncertainty and frustration with persistent health problems. Conclusions: mHealth equipment is feasible with potential to improve patient-centered outcomes and increase self-management in older adults with HF.

  • Study participant using Sure Step. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://aging.jmir.org/2018/2/e11975/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    An Interactive Home-Based Cognitive-Motor Step Training Program to Reduce Fall Risk in Older Adults: Qualitative Descriptive Study of Older Adults’...

    Abstract:

    Background: Falls are a major contributor to the burden of disease in older adults. Home-based exercise programs are effective in reducing the rate and risk of falls in older adults. However, adherence to home-based exercise programs is low, limiting the efficacy of interventions. The implementation of technology-based exercise programs for older adults to use at home may increase exercise adherence and, thus, the effectiveness of fall prevention interventions. More information about older adults’ experiences when using technologies at home is needed to enable the design of programs that are tailored to older adults’ needs. Objective: This study aimed to (1) explore older adults’ experiences using SureStep, an interactive cognitive-motor step training program to reduce fall risk unsupervised at home; (2) explore program features that older adults found encouraged program uptake and adherence; (3) identify usability issues encountered by older adults when using the program; and (4) provide guidance for the design of a future technology-based exercise program tailored to older adults to use at home as a fall prevention strategy. Methods: This study was part of a larger randomized controlled trial. The qualitative portion of the study and the focus of this paper used a qualitative descriptive design. Data collectors conducted structured, open-ended in-person interviews with study participants who were randomly allocated to use SureStep at home for 4 months. All interviews were audiotaped and ranged from 45 to 60 min. Thematic analysis was used to analyze collected data. This study was guided by Pender’s Health Promotion Model. Results: Overall, 24 older adults aged 70 to 97 years were interviewed. Findings suggest older adults are open to use technology-based exercise programs at home, and in the context of optimizing adherence to home-based exercise programs for the prevention of falls, findings suggest that program developers should develop exercise programs in ways that provide older adults with a fun and enjoyable experience (thus increasing intrinsic motivation to exercise), focus on improving outcomes that are significant to older adults (thus increasing self-determined extrinsic motivation), offer challenging yet attainable exercises (thus increasing perceived self-competence), provide positive feedback on performance (thus increasing self-efficacy), and are easy to use (thus reducing perceived barriers to technology use). Conclusions: This study provides important considerations when designing technology-based programs so they are tailored to the needs of older adults, increasing both usability and acceptability of programs and potentially enhancing exercise participation and long-term adherence to fall prevention interventions. Program uptake and adherence seem to be influenced by (1) older adults’ perceived benefits of undertaking the program, (2) whether the program is stimulating, and (3) the perceived barriers to exercise and technology use. Older adults shared important recommendations for future development of technologies for older adults to use at home.

  • Source: Flickr; Copyright: Beyond Access; URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/beyondaccessinitiative/16044489590; License: Creative Commons Attribution + ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA).

    Digital Access in Working-Age and Older Adults and Their Caregivers Attending Psychiatry Outpatient Clinics: Quantitative Survey

    Abstract:

    Background: It has been suggested that improving access to mental health services, supporting self-management, and increasing clinical productivity can be achieved through the delivery of technology-enabled care by personal mobile-based and internet-based services. There is little evidence available about whether working-age and older adults with mental health problems or their caregivers have access to these technologies or their confidence with these technologies. Objective: This study aimed to ascertain the prevalence and range of devices used to access the internet in patients and caregivers attending general and older adult psychiatry outpatient services and their confidence in using these technologies. Methods: We conducted an anonymous survey of 77 patients and caregivers from a general psychiatry and old age psychiatry clinic to determine rates of internet access and device ownership, and attitudes to technology-enabled care. Results: We found high levels of internet access and confidence in using the internet in working-age adults, their caregivers, and older adult caregivers but not in older adult patients. The smartphone usage predominated in working-age adults and their caregivers. Older adult caregivers were more likely to use desktop or laptop computers. In our sample, tablets were the least popular form factor. Conclusions: Access rates and uptake of internet-based services have the potential to be high in working-age adults and their caregivers but are likely to be markedly lower among older adult patients attending psychiatry clinics. Applications designed for tablets are likely to have low uptake. All groups identified appointment reminders as likely to be beneficial.

  • Source: The Authors / Placeit; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://aging.jmir.org/2018/2/e11569/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    A Fall Risk mHealth App for Older Adults: Development and Usability Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in older adults. Due to various constraints, objective fall risk screening is seldom performed in clinical settings. Smartphones offer a high potential to provide fall risk screening for older adults in home settings. However, there is limited understanding of whether smartphone technology for falls screening is usable by older adults who present age-related changes in perceptual, cognitive, and motor capabilities. Objective: The aims of this study were to develop a fall risk mobile health (mHealth) app and to determine the usability of the fall risk app in healthy, older adults. Methods: A fall risk app was developed that consists of a health history questionnaire and 5 progressively challenging mobility tasks to measure individual fall risk. An iterative design-evaluation process of semistructured interviews was performed to determine the usability of the app on a smartphone and tablet. Participants also completed a Systematic Usability Scale (SUS). In the first round of interviews, 6 older adults participated, and in the second round, 5 older adults participated. Interviews were videotaped and transcribed, and the data were coded to create themes. Average SUS scores were calculated for the smartphone and tablet. Results: There were 2 themes identified from the first round of interviews, related to perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness. While instructions for the balance tasks were difficult to understand, participants found it beneficial to learn about their risk for falls, found the app easy to follow, and reported confidence in using the app on their own. Modifications were made to the app, and following the second round of interviews, participants reported high ease of use and usefulness in learning about their risk of falling. Few differences were reported between using a smartphone or tablet. Average SUS scores ranged from 79 to 84. Conclusions: Our fall risk app was found to be highly usable by older adults as reported from interviews and high scores on the SUS. When designing a mHealth app for older adults, developers should include clear and simple instructions and preventative strategies to improve health. Furthermore, if the design accommodates for age-related sensory changes, smartphones can be as effective as tablets. A mobile app to assess fall risk has the potential to be used in home settings by older adults.

  • An older adult with multiple long-term conditions. Source: Max Pixel; Copyright: Max Pixel; URL: https://www.maxpixel.net/Corridor-Elderly-Doctor-1461424; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Understanding Care Navigation by Older Adults With Multimorbidity: Mixed-Methods Study Using Social Network and Framework Analyses

    Abstract:

    Background: Health and social care systems were designed to be used primarily by people with single and acute diseases. However, a growing number of older adults are diagnosed with multiple long-term conditions (LTCs). The process of navigating the intricacies of health and social care systems to receive appropriate care presents significant challenges for older people living with multiple LTCs, which in turn can negatively influence their well-being and quality of life. Objective: The long-term goal of this work is to design technology to assist people with LTCs in navigating health and social care systems. To do so, we must first understand how older people living with LTCs currently engage with and navigate their care networks. No published research describes and analyses the structure of formal and informal care networks of older adults with multiple LTCs, the frequency of interactions with each type of care service, and the problems that typically arise in these interactions. Methods: We conducted a mixed-methods study and recruited 62 participants aged ≥55 years who were living in England, had ≥2 LTCs, and had completed a social network analysis questionnaire. Semistructured interviews were conducted with roughly a 10% subsample of the questionnaire sample: 4 women and 3 men. On average, interviewees aged 70 years and had 4 LTCs. Results: Personal care networks were complex and adapted to each individual. The task of building and subsequently navigating one’s personal care network rested mainly on patients’ shoulders. It was frequently the patients’ task to bridge and connect the different parts of the system. The major factor leading to a satisfying navigation experience was found to be patients’ assertive, determined, and proactive approaches. Furthermore, smooth communication and interaction between different parts of the care system led to more satisfying navigation experiences. Conclusions: Technology to support care navigation for older adults with multiple LTCs needs to support patients in managing complex health and social care systems by effectively integrating the management of multiple conditions and facilitating communication among multiple stakeholders, while also offering flexibility to adapt to individual situations. Quality of care seems to be dependent on the determination and ability of patients. Those with less determination and fewer organization skills experience worse care. Thus, technology must aim to fulfill these coordination functions to ensure care is equitable across those who need it.

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