Background: The present study was undertaken to build an evidence base focusing on an ageing population who are using or have used consumer wearables to collect and manage information about their personal health status. The primary objective was to understand the health self-management requirements, frailty and age related changes, and the health information support provided by consumer wearable devices, specifically in the context of older adults living independently.
Method: The study aimed to recruit older adults to respond to an online questionnaire. Inclusion criteria for the selection of study participants were: Aged 55 or over, independent living, and currently using or having used a wearable device or devices for health self-management in the past year. The online survey questionnaire represented a cross-section of variables in three sections: (1) Use of wearables for health monitoring, (2) Demographics and (3) Health, physical condition and wellness. A subset of the questions was drawn from the Tilburg Frailty Indicator.
Results: Summary findings from the completed questionnaires suggest the use of wearable health information supports aspects of health self-management activities among independent living seniors. Personal variations and user characteristics in the extent and consistency of the use of wearable information, and user experience in the process, was more difficult to extrapolate, for example, in health information sharing.
Conclusion: Responses to the survey do not indicate widespread use of information from consumer wearables for health self-management among older adults. However, among the respondents, more than half were willing to participate in a follow-up interview by a researcher on their wearable health information use. Further research will explore what they have to say about this information use in relation to frailty and age related changes, and about the way that such information may be integrated into health and aged care support systems.