Research to increase participation of older people in policy decision making about health screening

Research to increase participation of older people in policy decision making about health screening_LGE

Improving the participation of older people in key policy discussions about early intervention is at the heart of Torrens University Australia’s latest research.

This research, led by Dr. Rachel Ambagtsheer, a Torrens University academic, is part of a successful $584,430 grant in the Medical Research Future Fund, funded under the Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission (2021) scheme.

Torrens University Australia’s IMPAACT Project will challenge traditional assumptions around frailty and other health conditions as something that you cannot do anything about - a common belief held by both older people themselves and the health system.

Professor Kerry London, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research, said that Torrens University Australia has a strong humanistic value system at its core and with increasing numbers of older Australians experiencing a range of common health conditions, this was an opportunity to do research that will genuinely engage older people.

“At Torrens University Australia, we pride ourselves on doing research that matters: every element of what we do, is intended to make a positive impact. In this case, we are addressing the stigma around ageing, which can lead to a lack of early intervention,” said Professor London.

Research to genuinely engage with older people and help shape policy

Dr Rachel Ambagtsheer, the lead researcher, said that the project would engage older people from diverse community groups to discuss evidence-based issues so that they can help shape policy.

“With population ageing has come a global focus on preventative health for older people, such as increased screening. Yet, there is a lack of clarity about when and whom to screen, which can hinder attempts to implement screening programs,” said Dr Rachel Ambagtsheer.

“With this research, we started by looking at frailty and then broadened this to include diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dementia, so that we can really use research to help people live productive, healthy lives as they age- but to do that by including their views so that screening programs don’t feel like they are imposed on them but are implemented with respect, inclusion, and choice.

“We are really excited to be able to use a range of innovative methods to empower older people to have their say.

“We want to hear from those whose voices are often unheard so that we can, in an evidence-based way, help health systems design the most effective ways of supporting older people’s health and well-being.

“The benefits will include a range of actionable recommendations for input into policy, research and practice that enhance the capacity of older people to make decisions on early intervention measures aimed at improving their health and wellbeing.

"We will work with a diverse team of consumer co-researchers and others to co-design knowledge translation resources to disseminate the study findings.”

Torrens University Australia is proud to collaborate on this project with:

  • Flinders University
  • University of Wollongong
  • The University of Adelaide
  • Southern Cross University
  • Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute
  • University of Manitoba (Canada)
  • University of Alberta (Canada)
  • Office for Ageing Well (SA)
  • Multicultural Aged Care SA
  • ECH Inc. 
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