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JMIR Aging. 2019 Mar 19;2(1):e10019. doi: 10.2196/10019.

Mobilizing mHealth Data Collection in Older Adults: Challenges and Opportunities.

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Gerontology Research Center, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
NICM Health Research Institute, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Division of Psychology and Mental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
Division of Geriatrics, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, United States.
STAR Institute, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Department of Psychiatry and Division of Clinical Informatics, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States.


Worldwide, there is an unprecedented and ongoing expansion of both the proportion of older adults in society and innovations in digital technology. This rapidly increasing number of older adults is placing unprecedented demands on health care systems, warranting the development of new solutions. Although advancements in smart devices and wearables present novel methods for monitoring and improving the health of aging populations, older adults are currently the least likely age group to engage with such technologies. In this commentary, we critically examine the potential for technology-driven data collection and analysis mechanisms to improve our capacity to research, understand, and address the implications of an aging population. Alongside unprecedented opportunities to harness these technologies, there are equally unprecedented challenges. Notably, older adults may experience the first-level digital divide, that is, lack of access to technologies, and/or the second-level digital divide, that is, lack of use/skill, alongside issues with data input and analysis. To harness the benefits of these innovative approaches, we must first engage older adults in a meaningful manner and adjust the framework of smart devices to accommodate the unique physiological and psychological characteristics of the aging populace. Through an informed approach to the development of technologies with older adults, the field can leverage innovation to increase the quality and quantity of life for the expanding population of older adults.


data collection; digital divide; mHealth; older adults

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