PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP
Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This activity was supported by contracts between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Contract No. HHSN263201800029I/HHSN26300035. Support for the work of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences is provided primarily by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Award No. BCS-1729167). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-68086-8
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-68086-7
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25878
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Suggested citation: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2020). Mobile Technology for Adaptive Aging: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25878.
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PLANNING COMMITTEE FOR THE WORKSHP ON MOBILE TECHNOLOGY FOR ADAPTIVE AGING
SHELIA R. COTTEN (Chair), Michigan State University
JUDY R. DUBNO, Medical University of South Carolina
DEEPAK GANESAN, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
DINA KATABI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (committee member through July 2020)
MOLLY CHECKSFIELD, Study Director
JACQUELINE L. COLE, Senior Program Assistant
BOARD ON BEHAVIORAL, COGNITIVE, AND SENSORY SCIENCES
SUSAN T. FISKE (Chair), Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
JOHN BAUGH, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis
WILSON (BILL) S. GEISLER, Center for Perceptual Systems, University of Texas, Austin
MICHELE GELFAND, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park
NANCY G. KANWISHER, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BILL C. MAURER, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine
TERRIE E. MOFFITT, Department of Psychology, Duke University and School of Social Development, King’s College, London
STEVEN E. PETERSEN, Department of Neurology and Neurological Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine
ELIZABETH A. PHELPS, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
TIMOTHY J. STRAUMAN, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University
BARBARA A. WANCHISEN, Director
ADRIENNE STITH BUTLER, Associate Board Director
In 2004, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a workshop on Technology for Adaptive Aging. Since that meeting, technology has evolved dramatically; in particular, mobile technologies have become more pervasive in U.S. society and a mainstream part of most peoples’ lives. Such changes provide new opportunities for research on technology and aging. The National Academies Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences was contracted by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to convene a workshop in December 2019 to review research on mobile technologies and aging, and to highlight promising avenues for further research through a discussion about and compilation of six commissioned papers focused around mobile technology and adaptive aging. In particular, the NIA was interested in how mobile technologies could be used to support people in their everyday lives to help them live successful lives as they aged. A committee was appointed by the National Academies in April 2019.
Committee members first met in May 2019 with representatives from the National Academies and the National Institute on Aging to learn of the specific format and guidelines for the workshop, as well as specific NIA interest areas. A list of six topic areas for the workshop that were of interest to the NIA was produced at this meeting. The committee selected the authors for six commissioned papers to be presented at the workshop in December.
The workshop was held on December 11 and 12, 2019 (see Appendix A for the workshop agenda). The primary objective of this meeting was to engage in meaningful discussions about how mobile technology can be employed to enhance the lives of older adults. An author from each of the six teams presented an overview of his or her commissioned paper, with discussion after each presentation. The workshop also included a panel of industry experts. The industry experts gave short overviews of their organizations and use of mobile technologies to advance aging, again followed by discussion. The committee intended that the workshop presentations and discussion, and the subsequent publication of the commissioned papers, would generate ideas for future research that could help NIA set an agenda in this area of study. This volume is the collection of the papers.
In the workshop’s first presentation, Jessica Vitak stressed that privacy, security, and trust must be taken into account when designing studies that use mobile technologies, and also when analyzing data that are collected from various mobile devices. She noted the importance of digital literacy for study participants as well as researchers. Vitak also emphasized the challenges of using mobile devices in research, and the importance of finding ways to successfully navigate issues associated with mobile devices.
Karen Fingerman discussed the potential that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have to foster or support social relations among older adults. She emphasized the importance of social relations for survival, noting that both those who are isolated and those who are lonely have greater mortality. Fingerman reviewed various studies showing the beneficial effects of ICTs on social relations for older adults, and also noted research showing that technology does not necessarily substitute for in-person human social ties. Fingerman suggested one possible path forward is to focus efforts on individuals who do not use ICTs. She observed that another key question is whether ICTs should be used to complement existing ties or to help generate new ties for older adults. Another line of inquiry in this area indicated by Fingerman is access and design; she observed that ICTs can be very frustrating for individuals with cognitive impairment.
Diane Cook discussed ways in which sensor technology might promote aging in place, but also identified a range of opportunities to expand research using data gathered via sensors. These include enhancing diversity in samples; developing new and innovative technologies that adapt as people change; scaling up findings from smaller projects to see if they are reproducible in different and larger groups, and if impacts persist over time; decreasing costs of new technologies; and determining whether people continue to use devices after the research period ends. Cook also
discussed related challenges, such as identifying behavioral markers from raw sensor data, protecting user privacy, and ensuring that the technology is accessible to users.
Neil Charness focused on use and limitations of mobile technologies for interventions. One of the key issues Charness raised was the need for mobile monitoring systems to be tailored to participants in order to be successful. To advance research in this area, Charness suggests possible paths forward: avoiding small and unrepresentative older adult samples; ensuring adequate control groups to demonstrate efficacy; and including long-term assessment. Achieving these, however, will necessitate long-term funding for large, multisite studies. He also noted the need for better partnerships between academic researchers and industry to enhance usability, scalability, and deployment of mobile monitoring systems.
Elizabeth Murnane presented an overview of her commissioned paper that surveyed ways to gather data with sensors and mobile technologies. Murnane highlighted the importance of ensuring usability of devices among older adults. She noted that this includes interface elements (e.g., large touch targets, fonts, and screen sizes, as well as high contrast, simple interfaces, low manipulability, and enhanced and adaptive volume control) and interaction modalities that are more intuitive and natural. Minimizing information overload and delivering cognitively legible feedback are also important when using sensors and mobile technologies to attempt to change behavior. Murnane also noted the need for more common-format, interoperability, and reusable mHealth platforms.
In his presentation, Alvin Rajkomar noted that it is possible to use sensors to collect data from a lot of people, and while there is great potential in this volume, a variety of challenges affect generalizability of the studies being done. In addition, other types of data are typically needed besides sensor data in order to make predictions. Unless data are collected from various sources (types of sensors, groups, and places), there may be selection biases present, which could bias the machine-learning outcomes. However, he made the point that humans are equally or perhaps more biased than artificial intelligence.
We would like to acknowledge the contributions of those who were invited to participate in the industry panel, including Scott Moody, K4Connect; Jim Harper, SondeHealth; and Kyle Rakow, AARP. The National Academies staff facilitated all aspects of the committee’s work. Special thanks go to Molly Checksfield, the study director, who facilitated the work prior, during, and after the workshop. She took over from Sujeeta Bhatt, who staffed the effort until September 2019. Jacqueline Cole handled the logistics for the committee and its invited guests at vari-
ous stages of the project. Barbara Wanchisen, BBCSS board director, and Adrienne Stith Butler, associate board director, provided guidance to the committee throughout its work.
Shelia Cotten, Chair
Steering Committee for the Workshop on Mobile Technology for Adaptive Aging
This Proceedings of a Workshop was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published proceedings as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this proceedings: Joseph Ali, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University; Lisa Huber, School of Public Health and the School of Education, Indiana University; Tracy L. Mitzner, Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Aging Program, Georgia Institute of Technology; Marilyn J. Rantz, Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri; Blain Reeder, Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri; and Eleni Stroulia, Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the proceedings nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this proceedings was overseen by Kirsten Sampson Snyder, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. She was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this proceedings was carried out in accordance with standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the rapporteur and the National Academies.
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