Electronic tracking for people with dementia: an exploratory study of the ethical issues experienced by carers in making decisions about usage

Dementia (London). 2014 Mar 1;13(2):216-32. doi: 10.1177/1471301212460445. Epub 2012 Oct 3.


Electronic tracking through GPS (global positioning system) is being used to monitor and locate people with dementia who are vulnerable to becoming lost. Through a review of the literature and an original study, this article examined ethical issues associated with use in a domestic setting. The qualitative study consisted of in-depth interviews with 10 carers who were using electronic tracking. The study explored the values, beliefs and contextual factors that motivated carers to use electronic tracking. It examined the extent of involvement of the person with dementia in decision-making and it explored the various ethical dilemmas encountered by carers when introducing the tracking system. As an issue that emerged from the interviews, specific attention was paid to exploring covert usage. From the study findings, recommendations have been made for research and practice about the use of electronic tracking in dementia care.

Keywords: dementia; electronic tracking; ethical acceptability; wandering.

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers / ethics*
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Decision Making*
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Geographic Information Systems / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Privacy