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Aust Occup Ther J. 2016 Dec;63(6):415-423. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12286. Epub 2016 Jul 8.

The aesthetic appeal of assistive technology and the economic value baby boomers place on it: A pilot study.

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Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia.
LifeTec, Home Design for Living, Coorparoo, Queensland, Australia.
Private Practice, Home Design for Living, Coorparoo, Queensland, Australia.



This pilot study aimed to understand the importance of assistive technology (AT) aesthetics on the intention to purchase, using grab rails as the example. Furthermore, the study explored the economic value consumers placed on aesthetic appeal.


Structured interviews were conducted with 25 participants, nine female, mean age 59; where seven grab rails were presented and feedback obtained on the level of appeal and 'willingness to pay'. Responses to open-ended and fixed response questions were transcribed by the interviewer during the interview and a qualitative content analysis conducted.


Positive and negative terms in relation to aesthetics were used to describe appealing and unappealing grab rails; however, all grab rails were felt to have negative aesthetic aspects by at least five participants. Physical design and finish emerged as the two main themes regarding the appeal of the grab rail designs. Participants' 'willingness-to-pay' for appealing options was mixed, with both over and under valuations. The most likely grab rails to be purchased were considered both appealing and cost effective by participants.


Aesthetic appeal plays an important role in acceptance and uptake of AT. Designers and manufacturers should be encouraged to provide appealing options as the study has shown consumers prefer aesthetically appealing grab rails. However, the challenge is creating more appealing designs, without increasing cost as consumers seem to not want to pay more for them. Furthermore, clinicians need to acknowledge the importance of aesthetics when recommending interventions and be familiar with a range of options to provide clients with more choice.


appearance; choice; grab rail; purchase; willingness to pay

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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