Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 676–686 | Cite as

Hispanic Older Adult’s Perceptions of Personal, Contextual and Technology-Related Barriers for Using Assistive Technology Devices

  • Elsa M. Orellano-Colón
  • William C. Mann
  • Marta Rivero
  • Mayra Torres
  • Jeff Jutai
  • Angélica Santiago
  • Nelson Varas


Assistive technologies (AT) are tools that enhance the independence, safety, and quality of life of older people with functional limitations. While AT may extend independence in ageing, there are racial and ethnic disparities in late-life AT use, with lower rates reported among Hispanic older populations. The aim of this study was to identify barriers experienced by Hispanic community-living older adults for using AT. Sixty Hispanic older adults (70 years and older) with functional limitations participated in this study. A descriptive qualitative research design was used guided by the principles of the Human Activity Assistive Technology Model to gain in-depth understanding of participants’ perspectives regarding barriers to using AT devices. Individual in-depth semi-structure interviews were conducted, using the Assistive Technology Devices Cards (ATDC) assessment as a prompt to facilitate participants’ qualitative responses. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and rigorous thematic content analysis. Lack of AT awareness and information, cost of AT, limited coverage of AT by heath care plans, and perceived complexity of AT were the predominant barriers experienced by the participants. A multi-level approach is required for a better understanding of the barriers for using AT devices. The personal, contextual, and activity-based barriers found in this study can be used to develop culturally sensitive AT interventions to reduce existent disparities in independent living disabilities among older Hispanics.


Health disparities Race Hispanic Assistive technology Disabilities Barriers 


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elsa M. Orellano-Colón
    • 1
  • William C. Mann
    • 2
  • Marta Rivero
    • 3
  • Mayra Torres
    • 4
  • Jeff Jutai
    • 5
  • Angélica Santiago
    • 6
  • Nelson Varas
    • 7
  1. 1.Occupational Therapy Program, School of Health ProfessionsUniversity of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences CampusSan JuanPuerto Rico
  2. 2.Department of Occupational TherapyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.School of NursingMedical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto RicoSan JuanPuerto Rico
  4. 4.Puerto Rico Assistive Technology ProgramUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanPuerto Rico
  5. 5.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  6. 6.Occupational Therapy Program, School of Health ProfessionsMedical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto RicoSan JuanPuerto Rico
  7. 7.Graduate School of Social WorkUniversity of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras CampusSan JuanPuerto Rico

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