Home sweet home : a case study on persuasive technology to promote usage of an m-health application by elderly living at home
Abstract: Much of the developed world is experiencing an aging population. This requires society to adapt to take care of a growing elderly population and improve their quality of life. Today, mobile systems are available that makes it possible to monitor and improve health (m-health). Even though these systems could be immensely helpful for the elderly population, this has not been the primary demographic for the current m-health systems. This case study aimed at examining how persuasive technology (technology for changing behavior and/or attitude) can be used to promote usage of m-health applications by the elderly. For this purpose, a theoretical framework for supporting m-health systems is proposed. This framework consist of persuasive technology (for motivation and support for fulfillment of human needs), knowledge of elderly issues in interacting with mobile interfaces, smartphone usability heuristics and the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle (to support goalsetting and incremental progress). To determine how persuasive technology can be used to motivate elderly and find effective strategies for this purpose, the case study examined health behavior, motivations for healthy behavior, attitude to health, general goal setting behavior, needs, preferences, technological experience and self-efficacy, as well as usage of m-health systems using qualitative and participatory methods. Methods used included semi-structured interviews, future workshop, revolutionary rapid prototyping and usability evaluation. The findings of the interviews and the future workshop suggested the primary motivation for healthy behavior was derived from social aspects. Thus, the most effective persuasive strategies for the elderly likely target their need for social belonging and socialization. Based on the findings, an interactive prototype was developed. The prototype proposed an m-health application with self-monitoring that implemented an elderly community around healthy behavior, with opportunities to earn digital rewards and challenge other users to competition. The interactive prototype was then used in a usability evaluation to gauge its usability by the elderly and revised in higher fidelity according to their feedback.
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