Using Mobile Health Technology to Support Health-related Quality of Life : From the Perspective of Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment

Abstract: The prevalence of cognitive impairment and illness increases with age. For older adults, maintaining or improving health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in the early stages of cognitive impairment is important to prevent consequences related to the progression of the condition. This thesis aims to identify factors affecting HRQoL and describe how mHealth technology can support HRQoL in older adults with cognitive impairment.Four studies were conducted using quantitative and qualitative approaches. A cross-sectional design was used to identify factors affecting older adults’ HRQoL (Study I) and investigate the relationship between mHealth technology use and self-rated quality of life (QoL) (Study III). A phenomenographical design was used to describe variations in older adults’ perceptions of mHealth technology and its impact on HRQoL (Study II). A prospective longitudinal design was used to examine older adults’ HRQoL changes over time (Study IV).Participants were selected from two longitudinal population studies using a purposive sampling strategy to include those aged 55 years and above with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia. Data were obtained from questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Data from the quantitative studies were analysed using statistical analysis, including descriptive and comparative analysis and regression analysis, while data from the qualitative study were examined using phenomenographical analysis in consecutive steps.The results showed that most older adults experienced good HRQoL with regard to both physical and mental health. The likelihood of having good-to-excellent QoL increased with age and was higher among males and those with higher education levels. Those diagnosed with dementia reported poorer HRQoL. Factors associated with low HRQoL included dependency in activities of daily living, receiving informal care and feelings of loneliness and pain. The use of mHealth technology was perceived as supportive in maintaining social interactions and facilitating independent living. The technology literacy levels among the study sample varied significantly. Those who reported having moderate-to-high technical skills and using the internet regularly via mHealth technology had higher odds of experiencing good-to-excellent QoL. No significant changes were observed in the older adults’ HRQoL over time in relation to the non-use and use of a customized mHealth application.The indicators of HRQoL are clinically relevant for the secondary prevention of dementia to help maintain good HRQoL in older adults with incipient cognitive impairment. The technology-related differences reflect the risk of digital exclusion. To improve preconditions for being digitally involved in society, societal initiatives that aim to empower the technology literacy level of older adults are needed.

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