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Acceptance of a Digital Assistant (Anne4Care) for Older Adult Immigrants Living With Dementia: Qualitative Descriptive Study.

JMIR aging. 2024 April 20
BACKGROUND: There is a need to develop and coordinate dementia care plans that use assistive technology for vulnerable groups such as immigrant populations. However, immigrant populations are seldom included in various stages of the development and implementation of assistive technology, which does not optimize technology acceptance.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the acceptance of a digital personal assistant, called Anne4Care, by older adult immigrants living with dementia in their own homes.

METHODS: This study used a qualitative descriptive research design with naturalistic inquiry. A total of 13 older adults participated in this study. The participants were invited for 2 interviews. After an introduction of Anne4Care, the first interview examined the lives and needs of participants, their expectations, and previous experiences with assistive technology in daily life. Four months later, the second interview sought to understand facilitators and barriers, suggestions for modifications, and the role of health care professionals. Three semistructured interviews were conducted with health care professionals to examine the roles and challenges they experienced in the use and implementation of Anne4Care. Content analysis, using NVivo11, was performed on all transcripts.

RESULTS: All 13 participants had an immigration background. There were 10 male and 3 female participants, with ages ranging from 52 to 83 years. Participants were diagnosed with an early-stage form of dementia or acquired brain injury. None of the older adult participants knew or used digital assistive technology at the beginning. They obtained assistance from health care professionals and family caregivers who explained and set up the technology. Four themes were found to be critical aspects of the acceptance of the digital personal assistant Anne4Care: (1) use of Anne4Care, (2) positive aspects of Anne4Care, (3) challenges with Anne4Care, and (4) expectations. Assistance at first increased the burden on health care professionals and families. After the initial effort, most health care professionals and families experienced that Anne4Care reduced their tasks and stress. Contributions of Anne4Care included companionship, help with daily tasks, and opportunities to communicate in multiple languages. On the other hand, some participants expressed anxiety toward the use of Anne4Care. Furthermore, the platform required an internet connection at home and Anne4Care could not be used outside the home.

CONCLUSIONS: Although older adult immigrants living with dementia had no previous experience with digital assistive technology specifically, the acceptance of the digital personal assistant, called Anne4Care, by older adult immigrants living with dementia was rather high. The digital assistant can be further developed to allow for interactive conversations and for use outside of one's home. Participation of end users during various stages of the development, refinement, and implementation of health technology innovations is of utmost importance to maximize technology acceptance.

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