Older adults and cellular phones: A mixed -methods usability study

Sara J Kubik, Purdue University


This mixed-methods usability study examined the reasons why older adults used cellular phones. Qualitative and quantitative data included both actual use and perceptions of the technology. Older adults were interviewed and asked to describe why they owned cell phones. The analysis of these data resulted in an emergence of four themes: perceived usefulness, safety/security, perceived ease of use, and social interaction. Participant responses that defined these themes were placed onto an original survey instrument consisting of 55 closed-ended items. This survey was then given to a larger sample of older adults. Analysis of the survey data included both descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive analysis included frequencies, comparisons of the results of cell phone owners to non-owners through parametric and non-parametric tests, correlations, and an exploratory factor analysis on the last 22 Likert-type response items. The factor analysis used a principal axis extraction with a promax rotation, thereby allowing the factors to correlate with each other. This analysis revealed that two correlated factors existed that measured the latent construct of cell phone use. These two factors were labeled "Usefulness" and "Security." Factor scores were created from these subscales and used in an OLS regression. The most parsimonious multivariate linear regression model consisted of four significant independent variables that predicted the level of importance that an older adult assigned to their cell phone. The predictors were the factor score for the Usefulness factor, the factor score for the Security factor, and if the adults traveled long distances more than three times a month. Additionally, compared to older adults who were still driving automobiles, non-drivers considered their cell phones as substantially more important to them.^




James L. Mohler, Purdue University.

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