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J Adv Nurs. 2002 Dec;40(5):568-77.

User-friendly technology to help family carers cope.

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School of Nursing, University of Ulster at Coleraine, Coleraine, UK.



Increases in the older adult population are occurring simultaneously with a growth in new technology. Modern technology presents an opportunity to enhance the quality of life and independence of older people and their family carers through communication and access to health care information.


To evaluate the usability of a multimedia software application designed to provide family carers of the elderly or disabled with information, advice and psychological support to increase their coping capacity.


The interactive application consisted of an information-based package that provided carers with advice on the promotion of psychological health, including relaxation and other coping strategies. The software application also included a carer self-assessment instrument, designed to provide both family and professional carers with information to assess how family carers were coping with their care-giving role.


Usability evaluation was carried out in two stages. In the first stage (verification), user trials and an evaluation questionnaire were used to refine and develop the content and usability of the multimedia software application. In the second (demonstration), stage evaluation questionnaires were used to appraise the usability of the modified software application.


The findings evidenced that the majority of users found the software to be usable and informative. Some areas were highlighted for improvement in the navigation of the software.


The authors conclude that with further refinement, the software application has the potential to offer information and support to those who are caring for the elderly and disabled at home.

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