E Health and Older Adults

Older people using technology

Our work on eHealth and older adults has two strands.  The first is related to the trustworthiness of health sites; the second is related to the increasing important of mobile health apps.

Searching for and using health-related information is a significant activity for all but the youngest of Internet users. Many older adults are trusting of medical information found on the Web, often not considering that unreliable or deceptive information could be posted.  Our goal is to improve their ability to identify and use trustworthy health-related websites.

What makes health websites trustworthy, and how do we guide users towards these websites? To experts, accepted trust-related features of websites include the provision of self-regulation policies, source attribution, branding, and third party certifications [1]. Yet less sophisticated web users tend to make judgements about trustworthiness of websites based on a professional “designed” appearance, ease of understanding and ease of use [2, 3]. What is needed is a way to automatically identify important trust-related features on health websites, and to display a summary of these features in search results.

The proposed research will lead to web searchers being able to identify trustworthy health websites more easily. This will be achieved through the automatic identification of important trust-related features on health websites, and subsequent summarisation of these features as credibility icons in search results. Our emphasis will be on older users, given both the importance of health information to this demographic.

We also propose to investigate the use of mobile eHealth applications and their use by older adults.   Older adults have traditionally not been adopters of mobile technologies.  Given the growing ability of such apps to provide immediate information and feedback about health activities, such apps can be expected to increase in acceptance for older users if adapted for the needs of this population.

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Prof Vicki Hanson:

[1]    Luo W, and Najdawi M. 2004.  Trust-building measures: A Review of Consumer Health Portals. Communications of the ACM. 47(1)1, 09-113.
[2]    Song J, Zahedi F.  2007.  Trust in health infomediaries. Decis. Support Syst. 43(2):390-407.
[3]    Robins D, Holmes J. 2008.  Aesthetics and credibility in web site design. Inf. Process. Manage. 44(1):386-399. – See more at: http://www.side.ac.uk/accessibility/case_study/ehealth-and-older-adults#sthash.0YThAdKW.dpuf