• Older adults experiences of learning to use tablet computers: a mixed methods study

      Vaportzis, Ria; Clausen, M.G.; Gow, A.J. (2018-09)
      Background: We wanted to understand older adults’ experiences of learning how to use a tablet computer in the context of an intervention trial, including what they found helpful or unhelpful about the tablet training, to guide future intervention studies. Methods: Mixed methods study using questionnaire and focus group approaches. Forty-three participants aged between 65 and 76 years old from the “Tablet for Healthy Ageing” study (comprising 22 in the intervention group and 21 controls) completed a post-intervention tablet experience questionnaire. Those who completed the tablet training intervention were invited to share their experiences of engaging with new technology in post-intervention focus groups. We conducted three separate focus groups with 14 healthy older adults (10 females). Results: Questionnaire data suggested that the overall experience of the 22 participants who participated in the tablet training intervention was positive. The majority of participants said that it was likely or very likely they would use a tablet in the future. The focus group themes that emerged were related to the perception of tablet training, the experience of using tablets, and suggestions for future studies. Participants mentioned that their confidence was increased, that they enjoyed being part of a social group and downloading applications, but they also felt challenged at times. Advantages of using tablets included the ability to keep in touch with family and friends, a motivation to contribute to the community, and the potential for tablets to improve mental abilities and overall health and wellbeing. Participants made suggestions that would enable tablet usage, including improvement of features, and suggestions that would improve future tablet training studies, including smaller classes. Conclusion: Our findings have implications for the development of interventions utilizing new technologies that might promote the health and wellbeing of older adults.
    • Older adults perceptions of technology and barriers to interacting with tablet computers: a focus group study

      Vaportzis, Ria; Clausen, M.G.; Gow, A.J. (2017-10-04)
      Background: New technologies provide opportunities for the delivery of broad, flexible interventions with older adults. Focus groups were conducted to: (1) understand older adults’ familiarity with, and barriers to, interacting with new technologies and tablets; and (2) utilize user-engagement in refining an intervention protocol. Methods: Eighteen older adults (65–76 years old; 83.3%female) who were novice tablet users participated in discussions about their perceptions of and barriers to interacting with tablets. We conducted three separate focus groups and used a generic qualitative design applying thematic analysis to analyse the data. The focus groups explored attitudes toward tablets and technology in general. We also explored the perceived advantages and disadvantages of using tablets, familiarity with, and barriers to interacting with tablets. In two of the focus groups, participants had previous computing experience (e.g., desktop), while in the other, participants had no previous computing experience. None of the participants had any previous experience with tablet computers. Results: The themes that emerged were related to barriers (i.e., lack of instructions and guidance, lack of knowledge and confidence, health-related barriers, cost); disadvantages and concerns (i.e., too much and too complex technology, feelings of inadequacy, and comparison with younger generations, lack of social interaction and communication, negative features of tablets); advantages (i.e., positive features of tablets, accessing information, willingness to adopt technology); and skepticism about using tablets and technology in general. After brief exposure to tablets, participants emphasized the likelihood of using a tablet in the future. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that most of our participants were eager to adopt new technology and willing to learn using a tablet. However, they voiced apprehension about lack of, or lack of clarity in, instructions and support. Understanding older adults’ perceptions of technology is important to assist with introducing it to this population and maximize the potential of technology to facilitate independent living.
    • A tablet for healthy ageing: the effect of a tablet computer training intervention on cognitive abilities in older adults

      Vaportzis, Ria; Martin, M.; Gow, A.J. (2017-08)
      Objective: To test the efficacy of a tablet computer training intervention to improve cognitive abilities of older adults. Design: Prospective randomized controlled trial. Setting: Community-based aging intervention study, Edinburgh, UK. Participants: Forty-eight healthy older adults aged 65 to 76 years were recruited at baseline with no or minimal tablet experience;43 completed follow-up testing. Intervention: Twentytwo participants attended a weekly 2-hour class for 10 weeks during which they learned how to use a tablet and various applications on it. Measurements: A battery of cognitive tests from theWAIS-IV measuring the domains ofVerbal Comprehension, Perceptual Processing,Working Memory, and Processing Speed, as well as health, psychological, and well-being measures. Results: A 2× 2 mixed model ANOVA suggested that the tablet intervention group (N = 22) showed greater improvements in Processing Speed (η2 = 0.10) compared with controls (N = 21), but did not differ in Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Processing, or Working Memory (η2 ranged from −0.03 to 0.04). Conclusions: Engagement in a new mentally challenging activity (tablet training) was associated with improved processing speed.Acquiring skills in later life, including those related to adopting new technologies, may therefore have the potential to reduce or delay cognitive changes associated with ageing.It is important to understand how the development of these skills might further facilitate everyday activities, and also improve older adults’ quality of life.