Developing a sensor-based mobile application for in-home frailty assessment: a qualitative study

Marcela D. Blinka, Brian Buta, Kevin D. Bader, Casey Hanley, Nancy L. Schoenborn, Matthew McNabney, Qian Li Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Frailty syndrome disproportionately affects older people, including 15% of non-nursing home population, and is known to be a strong predictor of poor health outcomes. There is a growing interest in incorporating frailty assessment into research and clinical practice, which may provide an opportunity to improve in home frailty assessment and improve doctor patient communication. Methods: We conducted focus groups discussions to solicit input from older adult care recipients (non-frail, pre-frail, and frail), their informal caregivers, and medical providers about their preferences to tailor a mobile app to measure frailty in the home using sensor based technologies. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed thematically. Results: We identified three major themes: 1) perspectives of frailty; 2) perceptions of home based sensors; and 3) data management concerns. These relate to the participants’ insight, attitudes and concerns about having sensor-based technology to measure frailty in the home. Our qualitative findings indicate that knowing frailty status is important and useful and would allow older adults to remain independent longer. Participants also noted concerns with data management and the hope that this technology would not replace in-person visits with their healthcare provider. Conclusions: This study found that study participants of each frailty status expressed high interest and acceptance of sensor-based technologies. Based on the qualitative findings of this study, sensor-based technologies show promise for frailty assessment of older adults with care needs. The main concerns identified related to the volume of data collected and strategies for responsible and secure transfer, reporting, and distillation of data into useful and timely care information. Sensor-based technologies should be piloted for feasibility and utility. This will inform the larger goal of helping older adults to maintain independence while tracking potential health declines, especially among the most vulnerable, for early detection and intervention. Keywords: Frailty, wearable, health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101
JournalBMC geriatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Frailty
  • Health services
  • Wearable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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