The Digital Engagement of Older People: Systematic Scoping Review Protocol

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: There is an ongoing negative narrative about aging that portrays older people as a socioeconomic burden on society. However, increased longevity and good health will allow older adults to contribute meaningfully to society and maximize their well-being. As such, a paradigm shift toward healthy and successful aging can be potentially facilitated by the growing digital technology use for mainstream (day-to-day activities) and assisted living (health and social care). Despite the rising digital engagement trend, digital inequality between the age groups persists.
    Objective: The aims of this scoping review are to identify the extent and breadth of existing literature of older people’s perspectives on digital engagement and summarize the barriers and facilitators for technological nonuse, initial adoption, and sustained digital technology engagement.
    Methods: This review will be based on the Arksey and O’Malley framework for scoping reviews. The 6-stage framework includes: identifying research questions, identifying relevant studies, study selection, charting the data, summarizing and reporting the results, and a consultation exercise. Published literature will be searched on primary electronic databases such as the Association of Computing Machinery, Web of Science, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and ScienceDirect. Common grey literature sources will complement the database search on the topic. A two-stage (title/abstract and full article) screening will be conducted to obtain eligible studies for final inclusion. A standardized data extraction tool will be used to extract variables such as the profile of the study population, technologies under investigation, stage of digital engagement, and the barriers and facilitators. Identified and eligible studies will be analyzed using a quantitative (ie, frequency analysis) and qualitative (ie, content analysis) approach suitable for comparing and evaluating literature to provide an evaluation of the current state of the older person’s digital engagement. Inclusion will be based on the Joanna Briggs Institute–recommended participant, concept, and context framework. Articles on older people (65 years and older), on digital technology engagement, and from a global context will be included in our review.
    Results: The results of this review are expected in July 2021.
    Conclusions: The findings from this review will identify the extent and nature of empirical evidence on how older people
    digitally engage and the associated barriers and facilitators.
    International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): PRR1-10.2196/25616
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere25616
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    JournalJMIR Research Protocols
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information: This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 813928.
    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.


    • Digital divide
    • Digital engagement
    • Digital inclusion
    • Initial adoption
    • Older adults
    • Older people
    • Older users
    • Sustained engagement
    • Technological nonuse


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