Telehealth and digital developments in society that persons 75 years and older in European countries have been part of: a scoping review

Moonika Raja, Jorunn Bjerkan, Ingjerd Kymre, Kathleen T Galvin, Lisbeth Uhrenfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Demographic changes are leading to an ageing population in Europe. People are becoming more dependent on digital technologies and health ministries invest increasingly in digitalisation. Societal digital demands impact older people and learning to use new telehealth systems and digital devices are seen as a means of securing their needs. Methods: The present study undertakes a scoping review in order to map relevant evidence about telehealth and digital developments in society involving citizens aged 75 and over in European countries. It focuses on their experiences and the main barriers to, and facilitators of, societal digital demands. A framework proposed by Arksey and O`Malley was used to guide the scoping review process. The studies included in the review covered telehealth, digital technology and digital devices, and the context covered participants` own home or surroundings. A comprehensive search on PubMed/MEDLINE, CINAHL, Scopus, Embase and Open Grey was undertaken. Results: Out of 727 identified citations, 13 sources which met the inclusion criteria (9 original study articles, 2 theses, 1 letter about a product and 1 project report). Few of the studies identified have investigated European citizens 75 years and older separately. The studies included varied in their design, location and focus. Older people have experienced both telehealth and digital devices making life easier and the opposite. The outstanding facilitator found was that technology should be easy to use, and difficulty in remembering the instructions was seen as an important barrier. Interestingly, both social support and lack of social support were found as facilitators of using new devices. Conclusions: Telehealth may give a sense of security but learning to use a new device often takes extra effort. Older people were more open to new devices if the possible advantages of the new technology outweighed the effort that would be involved in adopting a new strategy. As technology develops rapidly, and life expectancy in Europe is anticipated to rise continually, there is a need for new and additional research among older European citizens. Future research should cover the technical solutions most relevant to older people today, social support and participants` access to the devices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1157
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

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Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Nord University`s librarian Vilde Blankvoll for her contribution. The first author would like to thank Nord University`s Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences Research Group Specialized healthcare: user and healthcare providers` perspectives for fruitful discussions.

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union`s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant No. 813928.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Aged 80 and over
  • Digital devices
  • Health services for the aged
  • Societal digital demands
  • Telehealth


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