Perceptions of Digital Technology Experiences and Development Among Family Caregivers and Technology Researchers: Qualitative Study

JMIR Form Res. 2022 Jan 28;6(1):e19967. doi: 10.2196/19967.

Abstract

Background: Caregiving is highly stressful and is associated with poor mental and physical health. Various technologies, including mobile and eHealth apps, have been developed to address caregiver needs. However, there is still a paucity of research examining the technology perceptions of informal caregivers, especially from the perspectives of sex, gender, and diversity.

Objective: To address the research gap and inform the development of future caregiving technologies, this study aims to examine how family caregivers perceive using technology to assist with their caregiving routines; identify the sex, gender, and diversity factors that shape these perceptions; and understand how these perceptions and needs are reflected within the current technology development process.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 16 informal caregivers of individuals with a range of chronic medical conditions and 8 technology researchers involved in caregiving technology projects.

Results: Three main themes with subthemes were developed. The first main theme is that caregivers see a need for technology in their lives, and it comprises the following 3 subthemes: caregiving is a challenging endeavor, technology is multifaceted, and caregiver preferences facilitate technology use. The second main theme is that relationships play a vital role in mediating technology uptake, and it comprises the following 2 subthemes: the caregiver-care recipient dynamic shapes technology perceptions and caregivers rely on external sources for technology information. Finally, the third main theme is that barriers are present in the use and adoption of technology, and it comprises the following 2 subthemes: technology may not be compatible with personal values and abilities and technology that is not tailored toward caregivers lacks adoption.

Conclusions: The findings highlight the multifaceted role that technology can play in aiding caregiving while drawing attention to the perceived drawbacks of these technologies among caregivers. The inclusion of technology researchers in this study provides a more holistic understanding of technologies in caregiving from their initial development to their eventual uptake by caregivers.

Keywords: caregiving; digital technologies; diversity; gender; sex.