Domain Experts on Dementia-Care Technologies: Mitigating Risk in Design and Implementation

Science and Engineering Ethics 27 (1):1-24 (2021)
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There is an urgent need to learn how to appropriately integrate technologies into dementia care. The aims of this Delphi study were to project which technologies will be most prevalent in dementia care in five years, articulate potential benefits and risks, and identify specific options to mitigate risks. Participants were also asked to identify technologies that are most likely to cause value tensions and thus most warrant a conversation with an older person with mild dementia when families are deciding about their use. Twenty-one interdisciplinary domain experts from academia and industry in aging and technology in the U.S. and Canada participated in a two-round online survey using the Delphi approach with an 84% response rate and no attrition between rounds. Rankings were analyzed using frequency counts and written-in responses were thematically analyzed. Twelve technology categories were identified along with a detailed list of risks and benefits for each. Suggestions to mitigate the most commonly raised risks are categorized as follows: intervene during design, make specific technical choices, build in choice and control, require data transparency, place restrictions on data use and ensure security, enable informed consent, and proactively educate users. This study provides information that is needed to navigate person-centered technology use in dementia care. The specific recommendations participants offered are relevant to designers, clinicians, researchers, ethicists, and policy makers and require proactive engagement from design through implementation.



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