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nurse showing older patient notes on an ipad

By 2060, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is projected to reach around 95 million, making up almost a quarter of the U.S. population. The number of people of color among the older adult population is also projected to increase significantly. Panelists of one 2023 PCORI Annual Meeting session discussed PCORI’s efforts to engage patients and the broader health and healthcare community in patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) and research-related projects. 

Tailoring Options for Complex Care

Many older adults live with multiple chronic conditions, with a disproportionately greater burden experienced by people of color. To compound this, out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures in this population have increased by 41 percent between 2009-2019. As the needs of older adults become more complex, the caregiving role also intensifies, often resulting in a significant impact on caregiver well-being. Family members or close friends often serve as the primary caregiver to older adults, playing a critical role in helping them age in place by directly addressing their care needs, helping them navigate a fragmented health care system and ensuring that their loved ones can continue to age with their joint goals of optimizing physical and mental function.

Given the unique needs of the older adult population, identifying different treatment options that might be beneficial at various stages of the aging continuum is informative to stakeholders.

However, guidelines and clinical practices affecting older adults have sometimes been developed without the input of this population themselves. The diversity of the older adult population and their caregivers lends itself to the need to develop a personalized approach to both research and funding toward culturally tailored interventions for specific populations of individuals. Patient-centered CER is key to ensuring the participation of older adults; given the unique needs of the older adult population, identifying different treatment options that might be beneficial at various stages of the aging continuum is informative to stakeholders such as healthcare providers, patients, caregivers and the broader healthcare community. CER affords the opportunity to compare best practices as well as established models of care to determine what works best for whom and in what circumstances.

Meeting an Urgent Need

To date, PCORI has made substantial investment in CER focused on healthy aging, palliative care, osteoporotic fractures and delirium and PCORI’s patient-centered approach and engagement activities have enabled older adults as well as their family caregivers, clinicians and other healthcare partners to have a significant contribution to research prioritization and development in the field of gerontology.

There remains an urgent need to generate, disseminate and implement robust evidence that can be put into practice in the field of gerontology, considering the adaptation required by rapid advancement in pharmacology and technology as well as the growing population of older adults and evolving federal policy. During this time, patient-centered CER can provide the evidence-based information that older adults and those who care for and support them need to make the best decisions they can for better health.


All sessions of the 2023 PCORI Annual Meeting are available to stream anytime, anywhere and for free at PCORI.org/annual-meeting. View the recordings today for a wealth of information on PCORI’s older adults portfolio and much, much more.

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