Background: Founded in 2001, the Village Movement has led to the development of a new structure for community-based supports to promote healthy aging across the United States. Villages typically operate as nonprofit membership organizations and provide services and programs through neighbors-helping-neighbors volunteer arrangements, with supplemental support from paid staff in many cases. Villages offer a range of resources for adults who are aging in community, including one-on-one assistance, referrals, volunteer opportunities, social programs and wellness activities.
Preliminary evidence indicates that participation in villages promotes older adults’ health and aging in place, especially among members aging in community with poorer functional health. Nevertheless, health intervention effectiveness research with villages is in its nascence, and there is need to develop capacity among village leaders and healthy aging researchers alike to conduct comparative effectiveness research in partnership with each other.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: Patient-centered outcomes research-comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER) has great potential to elucidate the effectiveness of village-centered health interventions that influence outcomes that matter most to older adult members. This project will strengthen mutual understanding and visioning among village leaders alongside gerontological and health researchers to develop individual, organizational, and network capacity for engagement in PCOR/CER to advance evidence on optimal health interventions in the context of villages as a patient- and community-centered structure for healthy aging.
Objectives: This project aims to build capacity for PCOR/CER by understanding what matters most to village members in terms of healthy aging and intervention research, which will then inform how project team members cultivate leaders from within the Village Movement on healthy aging CER, cultivate greater understanding among researchers on the appropriate conduct of PCOR/CER with villages and disseminate information about healthy aging PCOR/CER to village participants.
- Conduct focus groups with approximately 50 village members and staff about their expectations for healthy aging research with villages, priority PCOR/CER topic areas and perceptions of villages-researchers partnerships
- Establish the Villages Healthy Aging Research Ambassadors Group as a national work group to collaboratively design and implement outreach events on healthy aging research with villages and serve as peer-to-peer resources for village members to learn about healthy aging PCOR/CER
- Codesign and implement virtual summits with regional networks of village leaders, members and volunteers regarding PCOR/CER as a tool for promoting evidence-based approaches to healthy aging in villages
- Launch and develop the Villages Healthy Aging Research website as a resource for the engagement of village participants in healthy aging PCOR/CER
Projected Outcomes and Outputs:
Short-term outcomes during the project period include: Greater understanding among village participants on the relevance of healthy aging PCOR/CER with villages, greater understanding among researchers on how to best conduct PCOR/CER with villages, stronger network ties among research leaders and village leaders nationally on advancing healthy aging research of mutual interest, and shared understanding among researchers and village leaders nationally on priority topic areas for PCOR/CER with villages.
Medium-term outcomes (0-2 years post project period) include: Sufficient human, social and financial capital for conducting collaborative healthy aging PCOR/CER across villages and research organizations, as well as sustained structures for villages to partner with researchers as contributors to PCOR/CER throughout all phases of a research project.
Long-term outcomes (3+ years post project period) include: Greater understanding among villages, researchers, other key stakeholders and the public at large on villages as a setting for the deployment of efficacious evidence-based interventions that promote valued healthy aging outcomes, as well as a greater number of villages adopting evidence-based interventions.
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: The project team will facilitate engagement opportunities for village members, staff, and other national and local village leaders throughout the United States across a continuum, from informants in focus groups to participants in virtual summits to coleaders through the Ambassadors Group.
Project Collaborators: The Rutgers School of Social Work is the project lead in partnership with the Village to Village Network (a nonprofit organization that supports the growth and sustainability of villages nationwide) and the RAND Corporation (a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that focuses on objective public policy analysis to inform solutions regarding safety, health and prosperity).