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Gerontology. 2014;60(3):282-8. doi: 10.1159/000355644. Epub 2014 Jan 22.

Approaches to understanding the impact of technologies for aging in place: a mini-review.

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School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., USA.



There are many approaches to evaluating aging-in-place technologies. While there are standard measures for outcomes such as health and caregiver burden, which lend themselves to statistical analysis, researchers have a harder time identifying why a particular information and communication technology (ICT) intervention worked (or not).


The purpose of this paper is to review a variety of methods that can help answer these deeper questions of when people will utilize an ICT for aging in place, how they use it, and most importantly why. This review is sensitive to the special context of aging in place, which necessitates an evaluation that can explore the nuances of the experiences of older adults and their caregivers with the technology in order to fully understand the potential impact of ICTs to support aging in place.


The authors searched both health (PubMed) and technology (ACM Digital Library) venues, reviewing 115 relevant papers that had an emphasis on understanding the use of aging-in-place technologies. This mini-review highlights a number of popular methods used in both the health and technology fields, including qualitative methods (e.g. interviews, focus groups, contextual observations, diaries, and cultural probes) and quantitative methods (e.g. surveys, the experience sampling method, and technology logs).


This review highlights that a single evaluation method often is not adequate for understanding why people adopt ICTs for aging in place. The review ends with two examples of multifaceted evaluations attempting to get at these deeper issues.


There is no proscriptive formula for evaluating the intricate nuances of technology acceptance and use in the aging-in-place context. Researchers should carefully examine a wide range of evaluation techniques to select those that will provide the richest insights for their particular project.

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