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Involvement of the end user: exploration of older people's needs and preferences for a wearable fall detection device – a qualitative descriptive study

Authors Thilo FJS, Bilger S, Halfens RJG, Schols JMGA, Hahn S

Received 6 August 2016

Accepted for publication 22 October 2016

Published 20 December 2016 Volume 2017:11 Pages 11—22


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Friederike JS Thilo,1,2 Selina Bilger,1 Ruud JG Halfens,2 Jos MGA Schols,2,3 Sabine Hahn1

1Applied Research and Development in Nursing, Health Division, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Bern, Switzerland; 2Department of Health Services Research, 3Department of Family Medicine, School CAPHRI, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

To explore the needs and preferences of community-dwelling older people, by involving them in the device design and mock-up development stage of a fall detection device, consisting of a body-worn sensor linked to a smartphone application.
Patients and methods: A total of 22 community-dwelling persons 75 years of age and older were involved in the development of a fall detection device. Three semistructured focus group interviews were conducted. The interview data were analyzed using qualitative descriptive analysis with deductive coding.
Results: The mock-up of a waterproof, body-worn, automatic and manual alerting device, which served both as a day-time wearable sensor and a night-time wearable sensor, was welcomed. Changes should be considered regarding shape, color and size along with alternate ways of integrating the sensor with items already in use in daily life, such as jewelry and personal watches. The reliability of the sensor is key for the participants. Issues important to the alerting process were discussed, for instance, who should be contacted and why. Several participants were concerned with the mandatory use of the smartphone and assumed that it would be difficult to use. They criticized the limited distance between the sensor and the smartphone for reliable fall detection, as it might restrict activity and negatively influence their degree of independence in daily life.
Conclusion: This study supports that involving end users in the design and mock-up development stage is welcomed by older people and allows their needs and preferences concerning the fall detection device to be explored. Based on these findings, the development of a “need-driven” prototype is possible. As participants are doubtful regarding smartphone usage, careful training and support of community-dwelling older people during real field testing will be crucial.

Keywords: focus group interview, coding, wearable device, sensor, mock-up, smartphone

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