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New Report: Developing Research Capacity for Healthy Aging with Villages

Villages are designed to help people age in their communities with greater social connection and better mental and physical health. Yet research on how Villages promote healthy aging is in its early stages. How can we evaluate the impact of Villages? What kind of data and partnerships do we need? How can research help fortify Villages as a platform for health and well-being?


A new report titled “Developing Research Capacity for Healthy Aging with Villages” begins to address these questions. The report presents findings from a series of focus groups conducted with nearly 50 Village members, officers, and professionals across the United States. The aim of the focus groups was to understand the meaning of healthy aging to Village participants, their perspectives on how Villages support healthy aging, as well as conditions that influence Village engagement in future person-centered, comparative clinical effectiveness research to support healthy aging.


The report is part of the broader "Engaging Villages as Key Partners for Healthy Aging Research," led by the Rutgers School of Social Work in partnership with Village to Village Network and RAND. Researchers at RAND led and conducted the focus group study.

The senior author at RAND, Dr. Regina Shih, commented: 


“Research has the potential to provide crucial evidence of village benefits on the health of village members. Our goal was to ensure that the village community’s voice is heard and the best ways for engaging them in future research that can inform programming within and across villages. “

The report presents findings regarding how Village participants:

  •  View healthy aging as a facilitator to aging in place.

  • Describe myriad ways through which Villages are believed to support healthy aging (e.g., by promoting social connectedness and providing preventive health services).

  • Receive support from Villages when they interface with the healthcare system.

  • Understand evidence-based research as vital to Villages’ sustainability.

  • Have concerns about limited staffing and data infrastructure as barriers to research partnerships.

  • See potential in Village volunteers as facilitators for future research.

 

The report concludes with a discussion of implications for the design of future research with Villages. A key insight is that future comparative clinical effectiveness research should account for the high variability in Villages’ setup, their activities, and how they support members.


Village participants will have the opportunity to discuss the report through a series of regionally based virtual summits throughout June and July of 2024. These summits are designed to extend the insights of this report through continued national conversation on healthy aging research as part of the Village Movement.


The report is available for free download at the links below.




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