User Acceptance of Wrist-Worn Activity Trackers Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Mixed Method Study.

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Publication Date: 
Nov 16, 2017

BACKGROUND: Wearable activity trackers are newly emerging technologies with the anticipation for successfully supporting aging-in-place. Consumer-grade wearable activity trackers are increasingly ubiquitous in the market, but the attitudes toward, as well as acceptance and voluntary use of, these trackers in older population are poorly understood.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess acceptance and usage of wearable activity trackers in Canadian community-dwelling older adults, using the potentially influential factors as identified in literature and technology acceptance model.

METHODS: A mixed methods design was used. A total of 20 older adults aged 55 years and older were recruited from Southwestern Ontario. Participants used 2 different wearable activity trackers (Xiaomi Mi Band and Microsoft Band) separately for each segment in the crossover design study for 21 days (ie, 42 days total). A questionnaire was developed to capture acceptance and experience at the end of each segment, representing 2 different devices. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 4 participants, and a content analysis was performed.

RESULTS: Participants ranged in age from 55 years to 84 years (mean age: 64 years). The Mi Band gained higher levels of acceptance (16/20, 80%) compared with the Microsoft Band (10/20, 50%). The equipment characteristics dimension scored significantly higher for the Mi Band (P<.05). The amount a participant was willing to pay for the device was highly associated with technology acceptance (P<.05). Multivariate logistic regression with 3 covariates resulted in an area under the curve of 0.79. Content analysis resulted in the formation of the following main themes: (1) smartphones as facilitators of wearable activity trackers; (2) privacy is less of a concern for wearable activity trackers, (3) value proposition: self-awareness and motivation; (4) subjective norm, social support, and sense of independence; and (5) equipment characteristics matter: display, battery, comfort, and aesthetics.

CONCLUSIONS: Older adults were mostly accepting of wearable activity trackers, and they had a clear understanding of its value for their lives. Wearable activity trackers were uniquely considered more personal than other types of technologies, thereby the equipment characteristics including comfort, aesthetics, and price had a significant impact on the acceptance. Results indicated that privacy was less of concern for older adults, but it may have stemmed from a lack of understanding of the privacy risks and implications. These findings add to emerging research that investigates acceptance and factors that may influence acceptance of wearable activity trackers among older adults.