Older patients⇔ competence, preferences, and attitudes toward digital technology use: Explorative study

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Background: Malnutrition is prevalent in older patients, which is associated with severe consequences such as a decline in functional status, increased risk of readmission, and increased mortality. A tablet-based eHealth solution (Food‘n’Go) was recently developed and introduced at our clinic to support older patients’ involvement in nutritional interventions during their hospitalization, thereby enhancing their awareness and motivation for choosing the right food to obtain sufficient calorie and protein intake. To reap the full benefits from the eHealth solution, the technology should be introduced and accompanied by support that targets the end users’ competence level and needs. Objective: In this study, we aimed to explore older patients’ readiness (ie, competence, preferences, and attitudes) toward the use of information and communication technology (ICT), and to identify the factors that may act as barriers or facilitators for their engagement with health technology. Methods: A descriptive and explorative study was performed using triangulation of data derived from semistructured interviews and questionnaires (based on the Readiness and Enablement Index for Health Technology [READHY] instrument). Older hospitalized patients (age ≥65 years; N=25) were included from two hospitals in Denmark. Results: The majority (16/25, 64%) of the older patients (median age 81 years) were users of ICT. The qualitative findings revealed that their experiences of benefits related to the use of ICT facilitated usage. Barriers for use of ICT were health-related challenges, limited digital literacy, and low self-efficacy related to ICT use due to age-related prejudices by their relatives and themselves. The qualitative findings were also reflected in the low median scores on the eHealth Literacy Questionnaire (eHLQ) READHY scales within dimensions addressing the user’s knowledge and skills (eHLQ1:1.8; eHLQ3: 2.0), and the user experience (eHLQ6: 2.0; eHLQ7: 1.5). Conclusions: Older patients are potential users of ICT, but experience a variety of barriers for using eHealth. When introducing older patients to eHealth, it is important to emphasize the possible benefits, and to offer support targeting their knowledge, skills, and motivation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere27005
JournalJMIR Human Factors
Issue number2
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Rikke Terp, Lars Kayser, Tove Lindhardt.

    Research areas

  • EHealth, EHealth literacy, Explorative study, Older patients, Self-management

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