Usability of an adaptive computer assistant that improves self-care and health literacy of older adults

O. A. Blanson Henkemans, W. A. Rogers, A. D. Fisk, M. A. Neerincx, J. Lindenberg, C. A.P.G. Van Der Mast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We developed an adaptive computer assistant for the supervision of diabetics' self-care, to support limiting illness and need for acute treatment, and improve health literacy. This assistant monitors self-care activities logged in the patient's electronic diary. Accordingly, it provides context-aware feedback. The objective was to evaluate whether older adults in general can make use of the computer assistant and to compare an adaptive computer assistant with a fixed one, concerning its usability and contribution to health literacy. Methods: We conducted a laboratory experiment in the Georgia Tech Aware Home wherein 28 older adults participated in a usability evaluation of the computer assistant, while engaged in scenarios reflecting normal and health-critical situations. We evaluated the assistant on effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction, and educational value. Finally, we studied the moderating effects of the subjects' personal characteristics. Results: Logging self-care tasks and receiving feedback from the computer assistant enhanced the subjects' knowledge of diabetes. The adaptive assistant was more effective in dealing with normal and health-critical situations, and, generally, it led to more time efficiency. Subjects' personal characteristics had substantial effects on the effectiveness and efficiency of the two computer assistants. Conclusions: Older adults were able to use the adoptive computer assistant. In addition, it had a positive effect on the development of health literacy. The assistant has the potential to support older diabetics' self care while maintaining quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-88
Number of pages7
JournalMethods of Information in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adoptive computer assistance
  • Diabetes
  • Older adults
  • Self-care
  • Smart homes
  • Usability evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Health Information Management


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