New thesis about the use of eHealth among older adults with cognitive impairment
Hi there, Elin Jakobsson, PhD student at the Division of Occupational therapy! On September 1 you will defend your thesis ”Voices in the wake of eHealth: older adults’ and occupational therapists’ perceptions of using information and communication technology”. What is the main focus of your thesis?
The thesis is about the experiences and perceptions that older adults with cognitive impairment have from using information and communication technology (ICT) such as computers, telephones and the Internet in contact with health care - what is usually called eHealth. In addition, the thesis is about how occupational therapists assess the usability of a digitized questionnaire (in app format), which is also included in the eHealth concept.
Which are the most important results?
The use of eHealth among older adults with cognitive impairment depends on several different aspects, such as what ICT you are used to, what purpose the use of technology has and whether you have access to support with technology use. We could see that eHealth was generally difficult for many of the participants. For example, it emerged that the Internet is often considered too complicated and therefore not relevant to use and that older adults with cognitive impairment often receive indispensable support from their proxies in the important contacts with health care.
The thesis also points to the importance of including older adults with cognitive impairment as participants in research in order to maintain focus on their own experiences and perceptions of their use of everyday technology, including eHealth.
The occupational therapists’ assessment of the digitized questionnaire revealed high usability but also the importance of ICT having to be reliable in order for it to be perceived as useful in daily work.
How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?
Since the use of eHealth can be difficult for older adults with cognitive impairment, it is of great importance that health care professionals are sensitive to the type of ICT the care recipients use and how they want the contact to take place. It is therefore important that health care professionals offer care recipients different options for communication, not only online but also by phone and postal mail.
Regarding the occupational therapists’ assessment of the digitized questionnaire, we can see that digital tools probably have great potential for data collection and analysis both in research and for clinically active health care professionals.
What´s in the future for you? Will you keep on conducting research?
After my dissertation, I will teach at the Occupational Therapist program at the Division of Occupational Therapy, NVS, and conduct research in the field of stroke prevention in the Make My Day project.