Exploring Older Adults' Beliefs About the Use of Intelligent Assistants for Consumer Health Information Management: A Participatory Design Study

Aqueasha Martin-Hammond, Sravani Vemireddy, Kartik Rao
2019 JMIR Aging  
Intelligent assistants (IAs), also known as intelligent agents, use artificial intelligence to help users achieve a goal or complete a task. IAs represent a potential solution for providing older adults with individualized assistance at home, for example, to reduce social isolation, serve as memory aids, or help with disease management. However, to design IAs for health that are beneficial and accepted by older adults, it is important to understand their beliefs about IAs, how they would like
more » ... interact with IAs for consumer health, and how they desire to integrate IAs into their homes. Objective We explore older adults' mental models and beliefs about IAs, the tasks they want IAs to support, and how they would like to interact with IAs for consumer health. For the purpose of this study, we focus on IAs in the context of consumer health information management and search. Methods We present findings from an exploratory, qualitative study that investigated older adults' perspectives of IAs that aid with consumer health information search and management tasks. Eighteen older adults participated in a multiphase, participatory design workshop in which we engaged them in discussion, brainstorming, and design activities that helped us identify their current challenges managing and finding health information at home. We also explored their beliefs and ideas for an IA to assist them with consumer health tasks. We used participatory design activities to identify areas in which they felt IAs might be useful, but also to uncover the reasoning behind the ideas they presented. Discussions were audio-recorded and later transcribed. We compiled design artifacts collected during the study to supplement researcher transcripts and notes. Thematic analysis was used to analyze data. Results We found that participants saw IAs as potentially useful for providing recommendations, facilitating collaboration between themselves and other caregivers, and for alerts of serious illness. However, they also desired familiar and natural interactions with IAs (eg, using voice) that could, if need be, provide fluid and unconstrained interactions, reason about their symptoms, and provide information or advice. Other participants discussed the need for flexible IAs that could be used by those with low technical resources or skills. Conclusions From our findings, we present a discussion of three key components of participants' mental models, including the people, behaviors, and interactions they described that were important for IAs for consumer health information management and seeking. We then discuss the role of access, transparency, caregivers, and autonomy in design for addressing participants' concerns about privacy and trust as well as its role in assisting others that may interact with an IA on the older adults' behalf. International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) RR2-10.1145/3240925.3240972
doi:10.2196/15381 pmid:31825322 pmcid:PMC6931054 fatcat:mic5wbkaqnc5rophtccvnbahaa