Technology holds promise in terms of providing support to older adults. To date, there have been limited robust systematic efforts to evaluate the psychosocial benefits of technology for older people and identify factors that influence both the usability and uptake of technology systems. In response to these issues, we developed the Personal Reminder Information and Social Management System (PRISM), a software application designed for older adults to support social connectivity, memory, knowledge about topics, leisure activities and access to resources. This trail is evaluating the impact of access to the PRISM system on outcomes such as social isolation, social support and connectivity. This paper reports on the approach used to design the PRISM system, study design, methodology and baseline data for the trial. The trial is multi-site randomized field trial. PRISM is being compared to a Binder condition where participants received a binder that contained content similar to that found on PRISM. The sample includes 300 older adults, aged 65-98 years, who lived alone and at risk for being isolated. The primary outcome measures for the trial include indices of social isolation and support and well-being. Secondary outcomes measures include indices of computer proficiency, technology uptake and attitudes towards technology. Follow-up assessments occurred at 6 and 12 months post-randomization. The results of this study will yield important information about the potential value of technology for older adults. The study also demonstrates how a user-centered iterative design approach can be incorporated into the design and evaluation of an intervention protocol.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01497613.
Keywords: Research methods and issues; Social interaction; Technology.
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