In May 2019, the paper “Bare necessities? How the need for care modulates the acceptance of ambient assisted living technologies” was published in the “Journal of Medical Informatics”. The paper can be accessed at the journal website.

Background

Steadily increasing numbers of older people and people in need of care represent critical challenges for today’s society. In the last years, diverse (health-related) technologies have been developed to facilitate living at home for older people but also to support (professional) care personnel in their daily care efforts. Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) technologies have the potential to enhance safety, support medical therapy, or facilitate everyday chores and social life. With the huge range and variety of technical opportunities, the question arises what influences (potential) users’ decisions for the right technology in their individual conditions and situations. In particular with regard to the fragility of the care situation, it is unknown which technologies are desired for different care needs and diverse situations.

Objective

The present study investigates (1) personal care needs as a potential influencing parameter for technology acceptance and (2) the selection of specific technologies

Method

In an online questionnaire (including n = 162 people of all ages), technology acceptance and the selection of specific technologies was assessed, using two scenarios differing in their personal care needs (low care needs vs. moderate care needs) in two situational contexts (emergency detection vs. medical reminders).

Results

Personal care needs influence the perception of benefits, barriers, and general acceptance of assisting technologies, independent from situational context. Higher needs for care lead to higher acknowledgements of the technology’s benefits, lower agreements or, in parts, higher rejections of potential barriers and higher acceptance. The two care situations differ regarding the participants’ preferences for technologies: For emergency detection, smart watches and emergency buttons are clearly accepted. In contrast, cameras are consistently rejected. For situations in which medical reminders are used, smartphone and smartwatches are most wanted, whereas audio assistants and smart TV were rather rejected.

Conclusions

The results provide insights into users’ preferences for specific technologies for the purpose of emergency detection and medical reminders as well as for the important influence of personal care needs. These insights can be used to derive user-tailored solutions of technology configurations for specific care needs and situations.

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