Usability and acceptability of a fall monitoring system
Falls and injurious falls affect one third of the older people. Those experiencing a fall might be unable to call for help remaining unattended for a long time. Pain, hypothermia and dehydration are common consequences. Additionally, ensuing fear of falling may reduce physical activity leading to functional decline and possibly institutionalization. Monitoring fall events the CONFIDENCE system could summon emergency assistance automatically thus reducing the negative consequences of falls. This thesis is part of the European FP7 project “Ubiquitous care system to support independent living” (CONFIDENCE) which developed a fall monitoring system based on three-dimensional (3D) localization of bodily worn radio frequency (RF) tags. Usability and acceptability are factors influencing the possible market success of technological innovations such as CONFIDENCE. The purpose of this study was to research the usability and acceptability of this system among 24 older people. Participants filled in the WHOQOL-BREF, Falls Efficacy Scale International, mobile phone expertise, usability and acceptability questionnaires. They interacted with the system wearing and removing the RF tags, and initiating and dismissing user-initiated- and system-detected-alarms through a smartphone interface. Data were analyzed with the SPSS software. Performance time differences were subjected to ANOVA and t-tests. Associations among variables were studied with Spearman Rho (ρ) correlation tests. Performance time in the alarm tasks was similar when performed with the dominant and non-dominant hands. There were no errors in task-goal achievement. Task performance did not differ when comparing two versions of the user interfaces. Performance and usability questionnaire reports indicated good usability of the system. The results suggest that the acceptability of the prototype was high and significantly (all ps < .05) associated with age (advantages-age ρ = .43, disadvantages-age ρ = -.46), FES-I (ρ = -.43), and the WHOQOL-BREF environment domain (ρ = .41). In real-life conditions, future prospective research should focus on the usability and acceptability of this or comparable systems, and whether these influence fear of falling and quality of life of faller vs. non-faller older adults. ...
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