Older adults' needs and preferences for a nutrition education digital health solution: A participatory design study

Publication Name

Health Expectations


Background: The global population is ageing rapidly and there is a need for strategies to promote health and wellbeing among older adults. Nutrition knowledge is a key predictor of dietary intake; therefore, effective educational programmes are urgently required to rectify poor dietary patterns. Digital health technologies provide a viable option for delivering nutrition education that is cost-effective and widely accessible. However, few technologies have been developed to meet the unique needs and preferences of older adults. Objective: The aim of this study was to explore technology use among older adults and qualitatively determine the content needs and design preferences for an online nutrition education resource tailored to older adult consumers in Australia. Methods: Twenty adult participants aged 55 years and older (95% female) participated in one of four 2-h participatory design workshops. In each workshop, prompted discussion questions were used to explore participants' technology use and preferences and to explore content needs and design preferences for an online nutrition education resource specific to older adults. Results: All participants were regularly using a range of different devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets and computers) and reported being comfortable doing so. Participants wanted a website that provided general nutrition information, practical advice and recipes. To enhance engagement, they sought a personalised resource that could be adjusted to suit their needs, included up-to-date information and allowed for easy sharing with others by exporting information as a PDF. Conclusions: Participatory design methods generate new knowledge for designing and tailoring digital health technologies to be appropriate and useful for the target audience. Specifically, older adults seek an online resource that has large and simple fonts with clear categories, providing them with practical advice and general nutrition information that can be personalised to suit their own needs and health concerns, with the option to export and print information into a paper-based format. Patient or Public Contribution: Older adults actively participated in the development and evaluation process to generate ideas about potential features, functionalities, uses and practicalities of an online nutrition education resource.

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Funding Sponsor

University of Sydney



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