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Prediction of (Non)Participation of Older People in Digital Health Research: Exergame Intervention Study.

  • Poli, Arianna1
  • Kelfve, Susanne1, 2
  • Klompstra, Leonie3
  • Strömberg, Anna3, 4
  • Jaarsma, Tiny3, 5
  • Motel-Klingebiel, Andreas1
  • 1 Division Ageing and Social Change, Department of Culture and Society, Linköping University, Norrköping, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 2 Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 3 Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Science, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 4 Department of Cardiology, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 5 Julius Centre, University Medical Center, Utrecht, Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
Published Article
Journal of Medical Internet Research
JMIR Publications Inc.
Publication Date
Jun 05, 2020
DOI: 10.2196/17884
PMID: 32501275


The use of digital technologies is increasing in health care. However, studies evaluating digital health technologies can be characterized by selective nonparticipation of older people, although older people represent one of the main user groups of health care. We examined whether and how participation in an exergame intervention study was associated with age, gender, and heart failure (HF) symptom severity. A subset of data from the HF-Wii study was used. The data came from patients with HF in institutional settings in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Selective nonparticipation was examined as resulting from two processes: (non)recruitment and self-selection. Baseline information on age, gender, and New York Heart Association Functional Classification of 1632 patients with HF were the predictor variables. These patients were screened for HF-Wii study participation. Reasons for nonparticipation were evaluated. Of the 1632 screened patients, 71% did not participate. The nonrecruitment rate was 21%, and based on the eligible sample, the refusal rate was 61%. Higher age was associated with lower probability of participation; it increased both the probabilities of not being recruited and declining to participate. More severe symptoms increased the likelihood of nonrecruitment. Gender had no effect. The most common reasons for nonrecruitment and self-selection were related to physical limitations and lack of time, respectively. Results indicate that selective nonparticipation takes place in digital health research and that it is associated with age and symptom severity. Gender effects cannot be proven. Such systematic selection can lead to biased research results that inappropriately inform research, policy, and practice. NCT01785121, ©Arianna Poli, Susanne Kelfve, Leonie Klompstra, Anna Strömberg, Tiny Jaarsma, Andreas Motel-Klingebiel. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 05.06.2020.

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