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How Sensors Trump Surveys When Researchers Monitor Elders: LeadingAge Article

I had to share this article from LeadingAge – – Thanks LeadingAge for your help and support to forward the notion of using Enabling Technologies to remain independent and at home.

Read the full Article from LeadingAge: http://www.leadingage.org/How_Sensors_Trump_Surveys_When_Researchers_Monitor_Elders.aspx

How Sensors Trump Surveys When Researchers Monitor Elders

by Geralyn MaganPublished On: Jul 25, 2011

Two recent studies suggest that using sensors to monitor the health of older people will yield more complete, unbiased and accurate information than using low-tech monitoring systems that rely on consumers to self-report their health status through verbal or written surveys.

Better Compliance

In one study, researchers at the UCLA Wireless Health Institute and the UCLA School of Nursing found that older people with congestive heart failure (CHF) who used a remote health monitoring system called WANDA experienced a 5.6% reduction in abnormal weight and blood pressure readings. WANDA, which stands for Weight and Activity with Blood Pressure Monitoring, tracks patient health, takes relevant measurements and transmits readings to health providers by phone lines, Wi-Fi, or 3G cellular networks.

3 features make WANDA an effective way to monitor health and prevent emergency situations, say researchers:

  • It features an automated system for checking vital signs.
  • It sends reminders to patients to reduce dataset gaps.
  • It delivers data to physicians in real time.

Researchers say these features make WANDA a better option for people with CHF than a low-tech system, tested in a 2010 Yale University study, which relied on patients to phone in their readings to health professionals. After 6 months, only 55% of patients in the study were still reporting their readings, according to Information Week.

Fewer Issues with Bias and Recall

In another study, researchers at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice found that sensors were just as effective as traditional written questionnaires in collecting accurate data about sociability and activity among older people.

During the small study, researchers asked 8 residents of a continuing care retirement community to spend 10 days wearing waist-mounted, wireless devices that continuously measured the amount of time they spent walking, sitting and speaking with 1 or more other people.

Researchers concluded that the electronically collected data correlated strongly with the results of four written questionnaires completed by study participants. In addition, researchers suggested that having objective sensor-generated information could eliminate the bias and recall problems people can display when answering surveys or submitting self-reports about their activities. Study participants reported that the monitoring devices were easy to wear but said they found the surveys inconvenient and difficult to complete.

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