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Research grant will enable expansion of training program for seniors

Jul 11, 2017
Guylaine Spencer

Sarah Neil-Sztramko

Above: Dr. Sarah Neil-Sztramko

Post-doctoral fellow Dr. Sarah Neil-Sztramko is the Principal Investigator on a new grant that will permit researchers to evaluate and expand a tablet training program for older adults. The grant was awarded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and co-investigators are Dr. Maureen Dobbins, Professor in the School of Nursing, and Dr. Sharon Marr, Director of Division of Geriatric Medicine and Chair of the Regional Geriatric Program. 

The program, called “AGE-ON”, is a series of volunteer-run workshops developed in 2014 by the Regional Geriatric Program in Hamilton. “The goal of these workshops is to teach older adults with limited computer knowledge how to use tablet computers to connect with friends and family and gather information related to issues of importance to them,” says Neil-Sztramko. “An initial pilot project conducted by the Regional Geriatrics Program in 2014-2015 displayed an overwhelmingly positive response to the AGE-ON workshops by both participants and volunteers, generating local media attention and resulting in a large number of interested older adults being placed on a wait-list for future workshops. This response proved the interest and need for a program of this type in the community. We are now partnering with the AGE-ON team, using feedback gathered through the pilot project to improve and expand upon the existing curriculum, and conduct a formal evaluation of the workshops.” 

This project will be conducted in two phases, Neil-Sztramko explains. “In Phase One, we will use existing feedback from the AGE-ON pilot project to update the current curriculum. In response to specific feedback, we will develop additional curriculum focused on using tablet computers to connect with family and friends and to access credible online health information such as the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal. In Phase Two, we will conduct a formal evaluation of the program, to understand its effects on participants’ knowledge, confidence in using tablets, and social isolation.” 

Grant Details:

PI: Neil-Sztramko SE; Co-I: Dobbins M, Marr S. AGE-ON 2.0: Expanding and evaluating a tablet training program for older adults. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Insight Development Grant (Competitive). $57 627

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