This study examines differences in computer related self-efficacy and anxiety in subgroups of older adults, and changes in those measures following exposure to a systematic training program and subsequent computer use.
Participants were volunteers in the Intelligent Systems for Assessment of Aging Changes Study (ISAAC) carried out by the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology. Participants were administered two questionnaires prior to training and again one year later, related to computer self-efficacy and anxiety. Continuous recording of computer use was also assessed for a subset of participants.
Baseline comparisons by gender, age, education, living arrangement, and computer proficiency, but not cognitive status, yielded significant differences in confidence and anxiety related to specific aspects of computer use. At one-year follow-up, participants reported less anxiety and greater confidence. However, the benefits of training and exposure varied by group and task. Comparisons based on cognitive status showed that the cognitively intact participants benefited more from training and/or experience with computers than did participants with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), who after one year continued to report less confidence and more anxiety regarding certain aspects of computer use.
After one year of consistent computer use, cognitively intact participants in this study reported reduced levels of anxiety and increased self-confidence in their ability to perform specific computer tasks. Participants with MCI at baseline were less likely to demonstrate increased efficacy or confidence than their cognitively intact counterparts.