Factors predicting older Adults’ attitudes toward and intentions to use stair mobility assistive designs at home
Cole, D. Austin
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Home modifications that increase stair accessibility of existing housing stock are significant for older adults who want to age in place. This sequential mixed-methods study investigated older adults’ attitudes toward and intentions to use currently available stair mobility assistive design features, and explored which factors influence these attitudes and intentions to use. The data were collected through a cross-sectional survey of community dwelling 50 + adults from Southwest Virginia (n = 89) and a focus group (n = 15) in 2018. The survey questionnaire was based on a modified version of the Technology Acceptance Model, and focused on three stair mobility assistive design products representative of varying costs, and a range of mobility challenges: half-steps, StairSteady handrail, and stairlift. Ordinal regression analyses indicated that perceived usefulness consistently predicts older adults’ attitudes and intentions to use the three examined stair mobility products. The other factors associated with attitudes and willingness to use the products are dependent on some degree to the examined mobility device. Older age and presence of others in the household negatively influenced attitudes toward stair mobility products. Product aesthetics/unobtrusiveness, fear of falling, and person-environment fit are the three themes emerged from the focus group data analysis as the factors that most influence community dwelling older adults’ attitudes and intention to use stair-mobility assistive features. The findings have implications for design professionals, as they underscore the need for avoiding an institutional look in residential designs, specifying products with high customizability for user needs and preferences, and involvement of users in the decision-making processes.