Exploring Older Adults' Experiences of a Home-Based, Technology-Driven Balance Training Exercise Program Designed to Reduce Fall Risk: A Qualitative Research Study within a Randomized Controlled Trial

Meghan Ambrens, Melinda Stanners, Trinidad Valenzuela, Husna Razee, Jessica Chow, Kimberley S. Van Schooten, Jaqueline C.T. Close, Lindy Clemson, G. A.Rixt Zijlstra, Stephen R. Lord, Anne Tiedemann, Stephanie J. Alley, Corneel Vandelanotte, Kim Delbaere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and Purpose: With an aging population, falls have become an increasing public health concern. While face-To-face exercise programs have demonstrated efficacy in reducing falls, their effectiveness is hampered by low participation and adherence. Digital technologies are a novel and potentially effective method for delivering tailored fall prevention exercise programs to older adults. In addition, they may increase the reach, uptake, and sustainability of fall prevention programs. Therefore, understanding older adults' experiences of using technology-driven methods is essential. This study explored the user experience of StandingTall, a home-based fall prevention program delivered through a tablet computer. Methods: Fifty participants were recruited using purposive sampling, from a larger randomized controlled trial. Participants were selected to ensure maximum variability with respect to age, gender, experience with technology, and adherence to the program. Participants undertook a one-on-one structured interview. We followed an iterative approach to develop themes. Results and Discussion: Eight themes were identified. These fall under 2 categories: user experience and program design. Participants found StandingTall enjoyable, and while its flexible delivery facilitated exercise, some participants found the technology challenging. Some participants expressed frustration with technological literacy, but most demonstrated an ability to overcome these challenges, and learn a new skill. Older adults who engaged in a technology-driven fall prevention program found it enjoyable, with the flexibility provided by the online delivery central to this experience. While the overall experience was positive, participants expressed mixed feelings about key design features. The embedded behavior change strategies were not considered motivating by most participants. Furthermore, some older adults associated the program characters with gender-based stereotypes and negative views of aging, which can impact on motivation and preventive behavior. Conclusion: This study found digital technologies are an effective and enjoyable method for delivering a fall prevention program. This study highlights that older adults are interested in learning how to engage successfully with novel technologies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geriatric Physical Therapy
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • accidental falls
  • e-Health
  • exercise therapy
  • health behavior
  • intervention

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