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User-Dependent Usability and Feasibility of a Swallowing Training mHealth App for Older Adults: Mixed Methods Pilot Study

 HyangHee Kim  ;  Sang-Ho Lee  ;  Nam-Bin Cho  ;  Heecheon You  ;  Teukgyu Choi  ;  Jinwon Kim 
 JMIR MHEALTH AND UHEALTH, Vol.8(7) : e19585, 2020-07 
Journal Title
Issue Date
apps ; dysphagia ; education ; experience ; mHealth ; older adults ; sociodemographic ; swallowing ; thematic analysis ; usability
Background: Swallowing difficulties (ie, dysphagia) are common among older adults, with a 13% to 54% prevalence. Adequate interventions to improve the swallowing function of older adults would reduce morbidity and enhance health-related quality of life outcomes. Mobile health (mHealth) apps may help alleviate dysphagia symptoms by providing programs that maximize the intensity and frequency of training without requiring high costs or regular clinic visits.

Objective: The aim of this pilot study was to assess the usability of swallowing training apps by quantitatively and qualitatively evaluating older adults' self-reported data, taking into consideration their educational levels and exposure to mobile technology. We conducted surveys and brief interviews while the participants used a swallowing intervention app we developed. We subsequently identified and resolved individual-specific usability issues to improve future implementation of the app protocol for older persons with swallowing difficulties.

Methods: A total of 11 participants (10 women, 91%; mean age 75.7 years, SD 3.93) from two district-run senior welfare centers took part in this study. The participants were divided into a high-potential group and a low-potential group based on their total number of years of education and smart device usage. To investigate the usability of the app twice (ie, in the second week of the intervention and the postintervention stage), we used mixed methods consisting of both quantitative approaches, namely the System Usability Scale (SUS) and modified Computer Self-Efficacy Scale (mCSES) surveys, and qualitative approaches (ie, interviews).

Results: The quantitative results of the SUS and mCSES surveys revealed that the high-potential group was more inclined to adopt and learn new technology than the low-potential group. Specifically, within the high-potential group, a Wilcoxon signed-rank test indicated that the postintervention mCSES scores (median 65.50) were significantly higher than those in the second week of intervention (median 54.00; z=-2.023, P=.04). Additionally, the usability scores in the low-potential group were within the "marginal acceptability" range even after completion of an 8-week intervention program. Qualitative analyses via semi-structured interviews yielded promising outcomes regarding app acceptability, training program utilization, emotional responses, and learning experience.

Conclusions: To the best of the authors' knowledge, this usability and feasibility study is the first report of a swallowing training app designed to improve the swallowing function of older adults. Future research should consider several issues, such as user characteristics, pretraining education, and the intensity and innate characteristics of the intervention program.
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1. College of Medicine (의과대학) > Dept. of Rehabilitation Medicine (재활의학교실) > 1. Journal Papers
Yonsei Authors
Kim, Hyang Hee(김향희) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4949-2512
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