Technology and Aging Project: Training Outcomes and Efficacy from a Randomized Field Trial
This study examined whether training provided to adults age 60+ would increase the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as email and the Internet, and influence participants’ social support and mental health. Participants were randomly assigned to an experimental (n = 45) or a control group (n = 38). The experimental group participated in a six-month training program. Data were collected before, during, and after training on outcomes related to computer use, social support, and mental health. Mixed regression models were used for multivariate analyses. Compared to the control group, the experimental group reported greater self-efficacy in executing computer-related tasks and used more ICTs, perceived greater social support from friends, and reported significantly higher quality of life. Computer self-efficacy had both a direct and indirect effect on ICT use, but not on other variables. With appropriate training, older adults want to and can learn the skills needed to use ICTs. Older adults with ICT skills can access online sources of information regarding Medicare Part D options and utilize patient portals associated with electronic medical records. Agencies may develop services that build upon this technology sophistication, but policies also will need to address issues of access to equipment and high-speed Internet service.