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Activity Monitors as Support for Older Persons’ Physical Activity in Daily Life: Qualitative Study of the Users’ Experiences
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Embedded Systems.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5179-7158
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Embedded Systems.
Västerås Municipality, Västerås, Sweden.
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7157-7259
2018 (English)In: JMIR mhealth and uhealth, E-ISSN 2291-5222, Vol. 6, no 2, article id e34Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

Falls are a major threat to the health and independence of seniors. Regular physical activity (PA) can prevent 40% of all fall injuries. The challenge is to motivate and support seniors to be physically active. Persuasive systems can constitute valuable support for persons aiming at establishing and maintaining healthy habits. However, these systems need to support effective behavior change techniques (BCTs) for increasing older adults’ PA and meet the senior users’ requirements and preferences. Therefore, involving users as codesigners of new systems can be fruitful. Prestudies of the user’s experience with similar solutions can facilitate future user-centered design of novel persuasive systems.

Objective

The aim of this study was to investigate how seniors experience using activity monitors (AMs) as support for PA in daily life. The addressed research questions are as follows: (1) What are the overall experiences of senior persons, of different age and balance function, in using wearable AMs in daily life?; (2) Which aspects did the users perceive relevant to make the measurements as meaningful and useful in the long-term perspective?; and (3) What needs and requirements did the users perceive as more relevant for the activity monitors to be useful in a long-term perspective?

Methods

This qualitative interview study included 8 community-dwelling older adults (median age: 83 years). The participants’ experiences in using two commercial AMs together with tablet-based apps for 9 days were investigated. Activity diaries during the usage and interviews after the usage were exploited to gather user experience. Comments in diaries were summarized, and interviews were analyzed by inductive content analysis.

Results

The users (n=8) perceived that, by using the AMs, their awareness of own PA had increased. However, the AMs’ impact on the users’ motivation for PA and activity behavior varied between participants. The diaries showed that self-estimated physical effort varied between participants and varied for each individual over time. Additionally, participants reported different types of accomplished activities; talking walks was most frequently reported. To be meaningful, measurements need to provide the user with a reliable receipt of whether his or her current activity behavior is sufficient for reaching an activity goal. Moreover, praise when reaching a goal was described as motivating feedback. To be useful, the devices must be easy to handle. In this study, the users perceived wearables as easy to handle, whereas tablets were perceived difficult to maneuver. Users reported in the diaries that the devices had been functional 78% (58/74) of the total test days.

Conclusions

Activity monitors can be valuable for supporting seniors’ PA. However, the potential of the solutions for a broader group of seniors can significantly be increased. Areas of improvement include reliability, usability, and content supporting effective BCTs with respect to increasing older adults’ PA.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sweden, 2018. Vol. 6, no 2, article id e34
National Category
Medical Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-38640DOI: 10.2196/mhealth.8345ISI: 000426415800015Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85042138812OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-38640DiVA, id: diva2:1187250
Projects
Investigation of needs and requirements related to monitoring of physical activity in daily life: A qualitative study of older adults' experiences from using activity braceletsAvailable from: 2018-03-02 Created: 2018-03-02 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved

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Ehn, MariaCarlén Eriksson, LennieJohansson, Ann-Christin

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