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Int J Older People Nurs. 2019 Dec 14:e12288. doi: 10.1111/opn.12288. [Epub ahead of print]

Co-designing technology with people with dementia and their carers: Exploring user perspectives when co-creating a mobile health application.

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School of Health in Social Science, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.



To explore the perspectives of those involved in co-designing a mobile application with people with dementia and their carers.


People with dementia suffer physical and psychological problems as their illness progresses and require a range of health and social care services to meet their needs. Mobile applications are being developed to support individuals to manage long-term conditions, but patients and carers are not always involved in designing this technology, which can lead to poor quality health apps. A digital initiative was launched to involve people with dementia and their carers in creating a mobile app that would support communication and enable them to share memories together.


An exploratory, descriptive approach was used.


In-depth interviews with people with dementia, their carers, and others involved in co-creating a mobile health application were conducted. Data analysis was undertaken using the framework approach.


The views of people with dementia, their carers, and project staff were similar regarding the complexity of the co-design process, and the value the mobile app had for people with dementia and their families. Being involved in co-production seemed to have numerous benefits for people with dementia and their carers as they gained new knowledge and skills, friendships, and a sense of achievement in creating a unique app that would benefit many people. The app also appeared useful in stimulating memory and cognitive function, aiding communication, and providing a sense of normalcy for people living with dementia and their carers.


Mobile health applications can facilitate interaction between people with dementia and their carer network that could improve their quality of life. Further research on which co-design process is best suited to people with dementia and whether technology created via this participatory method is more effective or not in improving health outcomes is required.


Nurses should have knowledge of and education about technology and how it can promote health and wellbeing of persons with dementia. Nurses who care for people with dementia and their families should support them in taking part in or leading the design of technologies that meet their needs. Participatory design methods should be taught in nursing education so the profession can provide guidance to patients and their families on co-creating health products and services.


co-creation; co-design; co-production; dementia; health app; mobile application; participatory design

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