Evaluation of an Electronic Care and Rehabilitation Planning Tool With Stroke Survivors With Aphasia: Usability Study

JMIR Hum Factors. 2023 Apr 17:10:e43861. doi: 10.2196/43861.


Background: Patients with chronic illnesses with physical and cognitive disabilities, particularly stroke survivors with aphasia, are often not involved in design and evaluation processes. As a consequence, existing eHealth services often do not meet the needs of this group of patients, which has resulted in a digital divide.

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness and user satisfaction of an electronic care and rehabilitation planning tool from the perspective of stroke survivors with aphasia. This would help us gain knowledge on how such a tool would need to be adapted for these patients for further development.

Methods: Usability tests were conducted with 9 postdischarge stroke survivors with aphasia. Effectiveness was measured using task-based tests, and user satisfaction was studied through qualitative interviews at the end of each test. All tests were audio recorded, and each test lasted approximately 1 hour. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. As the tool can be used by stroke survivors either independently or with some support from their next of kin or care professionals, the research group decided to divide the participants into 2 groups. Group 1 did not receive any support during the tests, and group 2 received some minor support from the moderator.

Results: The results showed that the care and rehabilitation planning tool was not effective for stroke survivors with aphasia, as many participants in group 1 did not accomplish the tasks successfully. Despite several usability problems and challenges in using the tool because of patients' disabilities, the participants were positive toward using the tool and found it useful for their care and rehabilitation journey.

Conclusions: There is a need to involve patients with chronic illnesses more in the design and evaluation processes of health information systems and eHealth services. eHealth services and health information systems designed for this group of patients should be more adaptable and flexible to provide them with appropriate functionalities and features, meet their needs, and be useful and easy to use. In addition, the design and evaluation processes should be adapted, considering the challenges of this patient group.

Keywords: aphasia; co-design; eHealth; effectiveness; evaluation; mobile phone; rehabilitation; stroke; usability testing; user satisfaction; user-centered design.