The Benefits of Technology for Engaging Aging Adults: Findings from the PRISM 2.0 Trial

Sara J Czaja, Neil Charness, Wendy A Rogers, Joseph Sharit, Jerad Moxley, Walter R Boot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Technology has potential for providing support for aging adults. This study evaluated the Personal Reminder Information and Social Management: 2.0 (PRISM 2.0) software, in terms of enhancing social engagement and quality of life, and decreasing loneliness among older adults.The randomized field trial conducted in diverse living contexts (rural locations, senior housing, and assisted living communities [ALC]). Two hundred and forty-five adults, aged 64 to 99 yrs., were randomly assigned to the PRISM 2.0 (integrated software system designed for aging through an iterative design process) or a Standard Tablet (without PRISM) Control condition, where participants received the same amount of contact and training as those in the PRISM 2.0 condition. Primary outcomes included measures of loneliness, social support, social connectedness, and quality of life. Secondary outcomes included measures of social isolation, mobile device proficiency, and technology readiness. Data were collected at baseline, and 6-and 9-months post randomization. This paper focuses on the 6-month outcomes due to COVID-19 related data challenges at 9 months.Contrary to our hypothesis, participants in rural locations and senior housing in both conditions reported less loneliness and social isolation, and greater social support and quality of life at 6 months, and an increase in mobile device proficiency. Participants in the ALCs in both conditions also evidenced an increase in mobile device proficiency. Improvements in quality of life and health-related quality of life were associated with decreases in loneliness.This study provides compelling evidence about the benefits of technology to older adults in terms of enhancing social outcomes and quality of life. However, the findings also underscore that for technology applications to be successful they need to be adapted to the abilities and needs of the user group and instructional support needs to be provided.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberigae042
JournalInnovation in Aging
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - Apr 25 2024

Keywords

  • Social engagement
  • Living environment
  • Technology access
  • Loneliness

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