Damant J, Knapp M, Freddolino P, Lombard D
Health and Social Care in the Community 2016, 25, 6: 1679—1703
Available online 25 Feb 2016
It is often asserted that older people’s quality of life (QOL) is improved when they adopt information and communication technology (ICT) such as the Internet, mobile phones and computers. Similar assumptions are made about older people’s use of ICT-based care such as telecare and telehealth. To examine the evidence around these claims, we conducted a scoping review of the academic and grey literature, coving the period between January 2007 and August 2014. A framework analysis approach, based on six domains of QOL derived from the ASCOT and WHOQOL models, was adopted to deductively code and analyse relevant literature. The review revealed mixed results. Older people’s use of ICT in both mainstream and care contexts has been shown to have both positive and negative impacts on several aspects of QOL. Studies which have rigorously assessed the impact of older people’s use of ICT on their QOL mostly demonstrate little effect. A number of qualitative studies have reported on the positive effects for older people who use ICT such as email or Skype to keep in touch with family and friends. Overall, the review unearthed several inconsistencies around the effects of older people’s ICT use on their QOL, suggesting that implicit agreement is needed on the best research methods and instrumentation to adequately describe older people’s experiences in today’s digital age. Moreover, the available evidence does not consider the large number of older people who do not use ICT and how non-use affects QOL.