Identifying barriers and facilitators for using a smartwatch to monitor health among older adults

Educ Gerontol. 2024;50(4):282-295. doi: 10.1080/03601277.2023.2260970. Epub 2023 Sep 22.


Smartwatches are a type of wearable device that enable continuous monitoring of an individual's activities and critical health metrics. As the number of older adults age 65+ continues to grow in the U.S., so does their usage of smartwatches, making it necessary to understand the real-world uptake and use of these devices to monitor health. In this study, older adults with a relatively high level of education and digital skills were provided with a smartwatch equipped with a mobile application (ROAMM) that was worn for a median of 14 days. Usability surveys were distributed, and a qualitative analysis was performed about participants' experience using the smartwatch and ROAMM application. Constructs from the Technology Acceptance Model and Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research were incorporated into in-depth interviews, which were recorded and transcribed. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Interviews among 30 older adults revealed the following main themes: 1) familiarization with the device and adoption and acceptance, 2) factors encouraging usage, such as a doctor's endorsement or the appeal of tracking one's health, and 3) barriers to usage, such as insufficient education and training and the desire for additional functionality. Overall, participants found the smartwatch easy to use and were likely to continue using the device in a long-term study. Data generated from smartwatches have the potential to engage individuals about their health and could inspire them to participate more actively during clinical encounters.

Keywords: implementation; mHealth; qualitative.