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Older adults’ use of fall detection and prevention technology can be improved by enhancing usability, independence and safety

Hawley-Haguea H, Boultona E, Halla A, Pfeifferb K, and Todd C.  Older adults' perceptions of technologies aimed at falls prevention, detection or monitoring: A systematic review  International Journal of Medical Informatics. June 2014;83(6):416-426.

Review question

What are older adults’ attitudes towards information communication technologies (ICT) designed to detect and prevent falls, and how can uptake of those technologies be improved?


Many older adults fall each year, resulting in serious injuries that affect independence and quality of life, and can lead to higher healthcare costs.

ICT can alert caregivers if a fall occurs, or actively prevent falls by delivering information about exercise and providing balance training.

Little is known about older adults’ attitudes towards ICT, or how best to promote the adoption and continued use of these technologies for fall detection and prevention.

How the review was done

A number of electronic databases were searched for studies that focused on older adults’ attitudes towards technologies aimed at preventing, detecting or monitoring falls.

A total of 76 studies were identified, and 21 were deemed eligible and included in the review. This review was funded by the European Commission.

What the researchers found

A desire for independence and a perceived need for safety were found to be important in motivating adults to use ICT for fall detection and prevention. The ability to easily understand and control ICT (e.g. adjusting the settings of video cameras and cancelling false alarms) were important for ensuring personal privacy and promoting satisfaction.

ICT should be tailored to individual needs, easy to operate, inexpensive and reliable. Large buttons, clear screens and combined auditory and visual messages can potentially improve usability for older adults.


This review found that older adults’ attitudes about personal independence and safety and the usability of technologies are important factors in motivating the uptake and continued usage of ICT designed to detect or prevent falls.

This summary is based on a review that was determined to be of medium methodological quality based on an assessment using the AMSTAR tool.


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