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Systematic review

Ambient sensors to support elderly persons living at home

We conducted a review of systematic reviews to evaluate effects of ambient sensor technology on resource use in municipal health and care services, with a special focus on health economic evaluations.

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We conducted a review of systematic reviews to evaluate effects of ambient sensor technology on resource use in municipal health and care services, with a special focus on health economic evaluations.


Key message

Ambient sensors may contribute to safety and independency for elderly persons living at home. Examples of sensors are magnetic switches, photo sensors, pressure pad sensors, and motion sensors. We conducted a review of systematic reviews to evaluate effects of ambient sensor technology on resource use in municipal health and care services, with a special focus on health economic evaluations.

  • The systematic literature search identified 528 unique references. We excluded 467 of these due to relevance, based on title and abstract. We evaluated 61 systematic reviews in full text based on inclusion criteria.
  • We did not find systematic reviews that that fulfilled the inclusion criteria. We lack documentation to conclude about effects of ambient sensor technology on resource use in municipal health and care services.
  • We chose to convey the main results from the systematic review that was closest to our research question. We assessed the review to be of high methodological quality.
  • The results in the systematic review show that there are few and small studies with a suitable design to evaluate effect. Further, only one of seven included randomised controlled trials evaluated ambient sensors for daily activities.
  • The entire results also showed that only two per cent of all included studies evaluated cost-utility aspects of the technologies.

Summary

The group of people over the age of 60 is increasing and is estimated to make up a quarter of the Norwegian population by the year 2030. It is a political goal in Norway that elderly persons should have the opportunity to live at home as long as possible, even with disabilities. Welfare technology is technological assistance that can contribute to increased security and safety and to strengthen individuals’ ability to manage themselves in everyday life. One type of safety and security technology is ambient sensors, which are installed in the home. Examples of such sensors are magnetic switches, photo sensors, pressure pad sensors and motion sensors. The Norwegian national program for welfare technology is a co-operation between the central union of municipalities (Kommunenes sentralforbund), the Directorate for e-health, and the Directorate of Health. So far, neither controlled evaluations of the effects of technologies nor cost-utility analyses have been carried out within the programme.

Kunnskapskommunen Helse Omsorg Vest, a co-operation between 11 municipalities in western Norway, made a proposal to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health to summarize research about effects of ambient sensors on resource use in municipal health and care services, with a special focus on health economic analyses. We planned to conduct a review of systematic reviews to answer the research question. A systematic literature search identified 528 publications. We assessed all publications for relevance, and assessed 61 publications in full text against inclusion criteria. None of the publications fulfilled our inclusion criteria.

We chose to convey the main results from the systematic review that was closest to our research question. We assessed the review to be of high methodological quality. The review aimed to evaluate evidence for smart home technologies and home health monitoring technologies for elderly persons with complex needs, and to map the level of technology readiness in such technologies. The results in the systematic review show that there are few and small studies with a suitable design to evaluate effect, and that a minority of the studies evaluated technologies where a whole system operates in its expected scope. Only one of seven included randomised controlled trials evaluated ambient sensors for daily activities; the outcomes in this study concerned physical and cognitive status. The other six studies evaluated technologies for monitoring of physical and physiological functions, as for example tele monitoring. The entire results also showed that only two per cent of all included studies evaluated cost-utility aspects of the technologies. The documentation indicates that few studies have evaluated sensor technology as described in the inclusion criteria for the review of systematic reviews that we planned.

Downloadable as PDF. In Norwegian. English summary.

    About this publication

  • Year: 2020
  • By: Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Authors Denison E, Steiro A, Hafstad E.
  • ISBN (digital): 978-82-8406-057-6