Age-friendly environments

Research Question: Which interventions are effective in creating environments that foster health and wellbeing and the participation of people as they age (‘age-friendly environments’)?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes age-friendly environments** as “environments that foster health and wellbeing and the participation of people as they age. They are accessible, equitable, inclusive, safe and secure, and supportive. They promote health and prevent or delay the onset of disease and functional decline.” The WHO Age-friendly Environments Programme identified eight dimensions for action: the built environment; transport; housing; social participation; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; communication; and community and health care.
*‘Effectiveness’ in this context relates not only to the size of the effect, but it also takes into account any harmful or negative side effects, including inequitable outcomes.
**WHO Age-friendly environments. Accessed January 2016
Population: Not specified
Intervention (non-NHS): Interventions to be evaluated will be outside the NHS, and the primary outcome must be health-related. Researchers should specify and justify study design and indicate how longer term impact will be assessed. Where relevant, research should include a health economic evaluation and logic model. Research should consider the impact of the intervention on health inequalities and incorporate a mechanism for public involvement.
Comparator: Not specified
Outcomes: Not specified
Commissioning Brief: Studies should generate evidence to inform the implementation of single or multi-component interventions. Studies may include evidence syntheses, studies evaluating interventions, including trials, quasi- and natural experimental evaluations, and feasibility and pilot studies for these. We welcome applications for linked studies (e.g. pilot + main evaluation). Secondary analyses of existing epidemiological data and/or impact modelling studies may also be funded. We encourage the adoption of a systems perspective where appropriate to the study context. In all cases a strong justification for the chosen design and methods must be made.

The primary outcome measure of the research, if not necessarily the intervention itself, must be health-related. The positive or negative impacts of the intervention, including inequitable outcomes should be considered.  Researchers are asked to indicate how long-term impacts will be assessed. All applications should identify underlying theory and include a logic model (or equivalent) to help explain underlying context, theory and mechanisms. Proposals should ensure adequate public involvement in the research.
For all proposals, applicants should clearly state the public health utility of the outcomes and the mechanisms by which they will inform future public health policy and practice. Details about the potential pathway to impact and scalability of interventions, if shown to have an effect, should be provided, including an indication of which organisation(s) might fund the relevant intervention(s) if widely implemented.
Representatives of policy or practice communities relevant to the project should be directly engaged or involved with the development and delivery of PHR research because this produces research that is more closely grounded in, and reflective of, their concerns and makes the subsequent uptake and application of research findings more likely. By policy or practice, we mean any organisation that is involved in shaping policy or delivering public health services relevant to the research, whether at local or national levels. This might include local authorities, charities, voluntary organisations, professional bodies, commercial organisations, governmental and arms-length bodies.