Best Practice Guidance
Human Interaction with Technology in Dementia


Evaluating the effectiveness of specific contemporary technology

The rapid growth of the technological landscape and related new services have the potential to improve the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health and social services and facilitate social participation and engagement in activities. But which technology is effective and how is this evaluated best? This section provides recommendations to evaluate the effectiveness of technology in daily life, meaningful activities and healthcare services as well as of technologies aimed to promote the Social Health of people with dementia. Examples of useful technologies in some of these areas are provided.
Social Health Domain 3: Technology to promote social participation

Measure different dimensions of social participation when evaluating the effect of social technologies


Make clear how you define the outcome of social participation and assess different dimensions of this multidimensional concept when evaluating the effects of social technology on social participation.

Explanation and examples

A systematic review was conducted to gain insight into the effects of technological interventions on the social participation of older adults. A total of 36 studies was included in a narrative synthesis. A major finding was the inconsistent use of terms and concepts related to social participation among studies. Future studies should make the applied definition of social participation explicit to allow for comparison of research results.

Furthermore, a majority of the included studies measured one specific dimension of social participation, i.e: social connections (e.g. by measuring loneliness or social isolation). However, social participation is a multidimensional concept. It is not only about social connections, but also about being engaged in meaningful activities that provide social interaction with others in the community (Levasseur et al., 2010). So far, there is no outcome measure that covers all dimensions of social participation. Therefore, it is recommended to combine quantitative outcome measures with qualitative data collection methods when assessing the effect(s) of technology on social participation. In the future, research should focus on developing and validating an outcome measure that covers different dimensions of social participation.

Type of evidence

Pascale Heins (DISTINCT ESR11)

Systematic literature review


Heins, P., Boots, L.M.M., Koh, W.Q., Neven, A., Verhey, F.J., and de Vugt, M.E. (2021). The Effects of Technological Interventions on Social Participation of Community-Dwelling Older Adults with and without Dementia: A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 10, 2308.

Levasseur, M., Richard, L., Gauvin, L., and Raymond, É. (2010). Inventory and analysis of definitions of social participation found in the aging literature: Proposed taxonomy of social activities. Social Science & Medicine, 71, 2141–2149.