HealthDay News — About half of older adults in the emergency department are willing to provide information using a tablet computer, but few can do so without needing assistance, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.1

Sruti Brahmandam, from Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown, and colleagues assessed whether participants would be willing to use a tablet computer to answer 8 questions rather than answering questions verbally. Three hundred sixty-five individuals aged 65 years and older were approached in two US academic emergency departments; of these, 248 were willing to answer screening questions.

The researchers found that 49% of the participants who were willing to answer screening questions were willing to use a tablet computer. Seventy-five percent of these were able to answer at least 6 questions correctly and 29% did not need assistance. Twelve percent were able to correctly answer all 8 questions without needing help. The likelihood of being willing and able to use the tablet computer was increased for individuals aged 65 to 74 years and for those reporting use of a touchscreen device at least weekly. Forty-five percent of individuals with no or mild cognitive impairment were willing to use the tablet, and 32% answered all questions correctly.

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“Tablet computers may provide an efficient means of collecting clinical information from some older adults in the emergency department, but at present, it will be ineffective for a significant portion of this population,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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  1. Brahmandam S, Holland WC, Mangipudi SA, et al. Willingness and ability of older adults in the emergency department to provide clinical information using a tablet computer. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016;64:2362-2367. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14366