Digital health wearables

Picture courtesy:

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There are two projects in our research programme on digital health wearables:

Project funded by Sir Halley Stewart Trust

Our project 'Investigating the role of wearable activity-tracking technologies in the well-being and quality of life of people aged 55 and over' has received funding from Sir Halley Stewart Trust

Our aim is to investigate whether and how wearable activity-tracking technologies can acceptably contribute towards self-monitoring of activity and health by people aged 55 years and over. As a result of these investigations, we hope to determine the potential of these wearable activity-tracking technologies in improving the physical and mental well-being of older people through active lifestyles, and the possible use of data by medical professionals for diagnosis and timely interventions. 

Our specific objectives are to investigate:
a) experiences and perceptions of family members who are using the data from these devices to monitor the activity of their parents or elderly relatives and the ethical dilemmas they face;
b) experiences of the people aged 55 and over who are already using these devices: challenges and advantages; privacy and ethical aspects about data-sharing; usage of the data for self-monitoring, or for alerting medical professionals or their family;
c) experiences of people aged 55 and over who haven’t used these devices before and who will be given devices in this project – challenges of adoption, and the perceived risks and advantages.
d) ethical aspects: who has access to the data from these devices? How is the data being used? 
e) accessibility and usability aspects related to the design and use of these devices.

Project team: Jane Palmer, Age UK Milton Keynes, Shailey Minocha, Duncan Banks, Caroline Holland, Catherine McNulty and Alice Peasgood from The Open University. 

project funded through the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account

In the second project that has received the ESRC Impact Acceleration Award, our aim is to have two-way knowledge-exchange (KE) with key stakeholders based on the evidence that the research team has gathered through user engagement on the role of wearable activity monitoring technologies in the health and well-being of older people (aged 55 years and over), carers, and the people being cared for.

Our focus is to build on and exploit user-based evidence gathered on the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project on the functionality, usability and accessibility of these technologies, accuracy and reliability concerns of stakeholders, and ethical considerations of data-usage.

Our main objectives are to:

  • bring a diverse group of stakeholders together including manufacturers to develop a shared understanding of design requirements and to produce guidance for solutions with benefits for all concerned;

  • provide stakeholders and the public with an empirically-grounded knowledge-base to influence the design of activity monitoring technologies for older people, carers and medical professionals; and

  • to build on and enhance the evidence-base on the role of wearable devices in digital health.

Project team: 

Academics: Professor Shailey Minocha, Project Lead (OU) Dr. Duncan Banks (OU), Dr. Kate Hamblin (Oxford University) Dr. Caroline Holland (OU), Dr. George Leeson (Oxford University) Ms. Catherine McNulty (OU) and Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor (OU)

Collaborators: Age UK MK (Jane Palmer), Carers MK (Sue Bowering and Robert Benn) and Samsung UK (Rohit Ail and Qian Shen)

Research Managers: Louise Thomas (OU) and Katia Padvalkava (Oxford University)

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