Ethical Perspectives on Emerging Assistive Technologies: Insights From Focus Groups With Stakeholders in Long-Term Care Facilities
Sifford, K. Susan
Mecca, Laurel Person
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics 2009 March; 4(1): 25-36
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES ARE RELATIVELY novel tools for research and daily care in long-term care (LTC) facilities that are faced with the burgeoning of the older adult population and dwindling staffing resources. The degree to which stakeholders in LTC facilities are receptive to the use of these technologies is poorly understood. Eighteen semi-structured focus groups and one interview were conducted with relevant groups of stakeholders at seven LTC facilities in southwestern Pennsylvania. Common themes identified across all focus groups centered on concerns for privacy, autonomy, cost, and safety associated with implementation of novel technologies. The relative importance of each theme varied by stakeholder group as well as the perceived severity of cognitive and/or physical disability. Our findings suggest that ethical issues are critical to acceptance of novel technologies by their end users, and that stakeholder groups are interdependent and require shared communication about the acceptance of these emerging technologies.
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