Design guidance for video chat system to support social engagement for older adults with and without mild cognitive impairment

Qiong Nie, Lydia T. Nguyen, Dillon Myers, Alan Gibson, Chantal Kerssens, Raksha Mudar, Wendy A. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Social engagement technologies offer an opportunity to reduce social isolation. However, there are barriers to adoption among older adults with and without Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Technology designed to meet the needs of those users may improve the acceptability, adoption, and benefits of social engagement technology. Objective: The goal was to assess older adults' needs and preferences for using video chat systems. We used the Technology Acceptance Model as a framework for evaluating and optimizing usability of a web-based video chat system for older adults with and without MCI. Methods: Mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) were used to achieve this objective. We developed questionnaires and interviews to identify experiences with video chat, and preferences and attitudes towards a web-based video chat system. We conducted heuristic analysis to evaluate and improve the usability of the system. Results: Participants reportedly used video chat less than other social network tools (e.g., Email). They were open to using a web-based video chat system to meet new people of all ages with shared interests. Their favorite topics of conversation were books, health, family, and exercise. Their ideal group size for a video chat session was 3 to 6 people. Overall, participants' attitudes toward the system were positive and they perceived the system as easy to use and useful for social engagement. Their evaluations indicated high usability of the system. However, individuals with MCI might require additional assistance to use the system. Usability issues were identified, such as technical terminology, small font size, and potentially confusing icons that were addressed in the redesign. Conclusion: Older adults, with and without MCI, were interested in using a social engagement technology to interact with previously unfamiliar individuals with shared interests. They provided valuable insights for the design of the systems. Our findings provide guidance for the design of social engagement technologies. Our research approach serves as a case study for the assessment of other technology platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 29 2020


  • Social engagement technology
  • perceived usefulness
  • perceived ease of use
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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