The digital engagement of older people: a scoping review

Abraham Sahilemichael Kebede, Lise-Lotte Ozolins, Hanna Holst, Kathleen Galvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background:
Digital technologies supports everyday living, wellbeing, advanced and dignified care, and ageing at home. However, the digital divide between ages excludes older people (65 years and above) from these benefits. This divide is a proxy reflection of existing social, cultural, and economic inequalities. The 2021 United Nations (UN) international day of older person underscored equal digital opportunities, access, and meaningful participation for older people with the theme “digital equity for all ages”.

Objective:
In this scoping review we aim to a) identify the extent and breadth of existing literature of older people perspective on digital engagement; and b) summarize the barriers and facilitators for technological non-use, initial adoption and sustained digital technology engagement.

Methods:
We used the Arksey and O’Malley framework for scoping reviews. A combination of search strategy was developed based on Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) guideline - participant, content, and context. We searched for published primary studies on the major electronic databases including MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Sciences, LISTA, and Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). We conducted a two staged screening (title/abstract and full article) and charted studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The characteristics of the study, types of digital technology under investigation and digital engagement level were analysed using a descriptive analysis. We synthesised the findings from the primary studies qualitatively using the capability, opportunity, and motivation behavioural model (COM-B) and theoretical domain framework (TDF), a structured, systematic, and replicable a priori framework, to ground the barriers to and facilitators of older people digital engagement.

Results:
96 articles were found eligible for the final charting and analysis. Most of the articles (63.5%) were published over the past five years (2016 onward). Majority of the studies (57/96) investigated the initial adoption stage of the digital engagement, and 54/96 studies were on everyday technology. Information and communication technologies, fall detection devices and remote monitoring technology were the most investigated technologies. Environmental context and resources were the most cited (37 times) barriers and facilitators followed by beliefs about capabilities (29/96) and physical and cognitive related capabilities (26/96).

Conclusions:
Older people's digital engagement can be conceptualised in a three-staged continuum (non-use, initial adoption and sustained use). Affordable, usable and useful digital technologies, which address the changes and capability requirements of older people and co-created with a value framework, are among the drivers of better engagement. In addition, knowledge and skills to cope with digital technology were important factors. Tailored and comprehensive intervention addressing older people's capabilities, motivation and opportunities is vital in rendering older people digital participation. There is a research gap concerning the barriers and facilitators of older people's technological non-use and sustained digital engagement. Future research and developers may need to look into this process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Oct 2022

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