S3.5 The @geing Online project: Developing and evaluating social e-innovations in a Nordic context
Chair: Anna K. Forsman
Introduction: While older adults have received attention in the context of telemedicine, the possibilities for employing technology-based or online interventions with a psychosocial focus – aiming to increase e.g. mental well-being and social participation – are far less explored. Objectives: The symposium aims to enable Nordic interdisciplinary knowledge exchange regarding innovative online solutions and their potential in promoting and protecting mental well-being and increasing social participation among older people. Through several international and Nordic evidence-based best practice examples, both the progress made and the advances needed in the field are highlighted. Overview of the contents: The symposium, hosted by the EU-funded Nordic @geing Online project, will include four presentations by researchers from Umeå University (PhD Madeleine Blusi), Åbo Akademi University (MSocSc Johanna Nordmyr, MSocSc Emilia Viklund), and Åland University of Applied Sciences (Assoc. Prof. Regina Santamäki-Fischer). The session includes an interdisciplinary overview of the state-of-the-art on technology-based interventions for promoting and protecting mental well-being in older people. The three following presentations will describe innovative research projects conducted across the Nordic setting, which show case various technology-based initiatives and related implementation approaches and measured psychosocial outcomes from various disciplines and contexts.
S3.5.1 Technology-based interventions for the promotion of mental well-being among
older adults: the current evidence-base
Åbo Akademi University, Finland
Background: The potential of applying new technologies to deliver innovative interventions aiming to support and protect mental wellbeing and other psychosocial dimensions of health in older adults are largely unexplored. Methods: The study was based on data gathered in a systematic review study project commissioned by the Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in England, encompassing seven bibliographic databases, supplemented by Google Scholar and website searches. Results: Twenty-one papers covering evaluations of technological interventions were identified. They examined the psychosocial effects of technologies for education, exposure to, and/or training to use, computers and the internet, telephone/internet communication and computer gaming. Few studies took the form of randomized controlled trials, with little comparability in outcome measures, resulting in an inconsistent evidence base with moderate strength and quality. However, three out of six studies with high or moderate quality ratings (all focused on computer/internet training) reported statistically significant positive effects on psychosocial outcomes. Conclusions: The review results highlight the need for more methodologically rigorous studies evaluating the effects of technology-based interventions on mental wellbeing. However, well-performed interventions can serve as best practice examples in this emerging field – also in a Nordic setting.
S3.5.2 Exploring the influence of an Internet-based support system on experiences of
isolation and social inclusion among older people in rural areas
Umeå University, Sweden
Background: In rural areas many older people who care for an ill spouse at home are tied to the home by their caring duties and feel isolated. Isolation and feelings of loneliness have negative effects on health. Access to social support and activities are often limited. This research explored how the use of internet-based support (e-health) services can influence experiences of isolation and social inclusion among older people in rural areas. Methods: A mixed method design with exploratory and comparative approaches was applied. 95 participants over 65 years were allocated to an intervention group (n=63) and a control group (n=32). Data was collected through web-camera interviews and questionnaires after 1.5 years of using e-health support. Quantitative data was analyzed using comparative statistics, multiple linear regression and logistic regression. Qualitative data was analyzed with content analysis. Results: Despite lacking experience in using computers participants were able to adopt the new technology and felt it gave a variety of benefits: regaining social inclusion, reduced feelings of loneliness and gaining empowerment. Participants using e-health support service were more satisfied than the control group regarding the availability, flexibility and individualization of support. Control group caregivers were less satisfied with support and experienced unmet needs. Conclusions: Internet-based support services can reduce experiences of isolation and loneliness, thereby contributing to healthy ageing in rural areas. Participants who used Internet-based services experienced several positive side effects that contributed to overall quality in daily life.
S3.5.3 ICT use and wellbeing: Older adults’ experiences of ICT use and participation in
regional development projects
Åbo Akademi University, Finland
Background: Earlier research has shown that information and communication technology (ICT) use can have a positive influence on older adults’ well-being, at the same time it can be problematic from both a user and well-being perspective. The study at hand focused on older adults’ ICT use in their daily lives, and the perceived role of ICT use for well-being and mental health. Methods: The study is based on 5 focus group interviews (total of 17 participants, mean age 71,6 years) conducted in 2015-2016 within the scope of the regional projects @geing Online and Vasa Walks. Qualitative content analysis was applied. Results: ICT use emerged as an important tool to stay in touch with family and friends for several of the participants, and could offer continuity in social contacts after retirement. Online services on the other hand contributed to a flexible and independent day-to-day life. However, the older adults also considered the fast-paced societal digitalization to negatively affect their self-image and contribute to feelings of incompetence if lacking ICT skills. Conclusions: ICT use can promote well-being through facilitating social contacts and social activities, and increased experience of independency. For some a negative effect of (lack of) ICT use on self-image and sense of competence – and thereby well-being - was reported. Overall, the mechanisms between health and perceived wellbeing among older adults are multifaceted and complex, as is the case for the mechanisms between ICT use and perceived wellbeing.
S3.5.4 A window towards the world - older adults’ experiences of interacting with others
via real video communication, and its meaning for becoming in health and
Regina Santamäki Fischer
Åbo Akademi University, Finland
Background: The potential of new technologies to support communication among the oldest-old (i.e. 80+) is currently under researched. The aim of this study was to uncover community living older adults’ experiences of interacting with others via real video communication in a Nordic archipelago context. The study applied a caring science perspective. Methods: Six persons (aged 80 and over) were interviewed regarding their experiences of interactive real video communication. The data was interpreted through hermeneutical reading. Results: The findings describe interactive real video communication through the metaphor of a window towards the world. The key theme Being in a movement towards becoming a unity as a human being emerged, along with the three subthemes: Alleviating suffering through beating involuntary solitude, Being in the world as an equal and dignified human being and Dedicating new perspectives and meaning in life. Conclusions: Interactive real video communication may be considered a feasible device for improving the quality of life among older adults living at home in rural areas. Technology-based solutions, that enable older people to be in contact with others from their home setting should be supported through infrastructure interventions – guided by the older persons’ own experiences and needs.