Environments for Healthy Aging: Linking Prevention Research and Public Health Practice

University of North Carolina, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, 228 Indian Trail Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. E-mail: .
Preventing chronic disease (Impact Factor: 1.96). 04/2013; 10:E55. DOI: 10.5888/pcd10.120244
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Safe and well-designed community environments support healthful behaviors that help prevent chronic conditions and unintentional injuries and enable older adults to be active and engaged in community life for as long as possible. We describe the work of the Healthy Aging Research Network (HAN) and partners over the past decade to better understand place-based determinants of health and translate that knowledge to real-world practice, with a focus on environmental strategies. Using key components of the Knowledge to Action framework, we document the importance of a sustained, multidisciplinary, collaborative approach and ongoing interaction between researchers and communities. We share examples of practical tools and strategies designed to engage and support critical sectors with the potential to enhance the health and well-being of older adults and their communities. We conclude with a description of lessons learned in facilitating the translation of prevention research into practice.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is a dearth of empirical research examining how patterns of stability and change in social engagement affect mortality. This study uses social integration theory within a life course framework to examine trajectories of social engagement over time and how those patterns relate to mortality. Data are drawn from the Americans' Changing Lives survey, a nationally representative panel study, with mortality information spanning from 1986 to 2005. Even after controlling for known predictors of mortality, membership in a trajectory of high and slightly increasing social engagement was related to lower risk of mortality. Sociodemographic, health condition, and health behavior variables mediated the impact of the other social engagement trajectories on mortality. Findings suggest the importance of maintaining high levels of social engagement over time for the health of older adults.
    Journal of Aging and Health 01/2012; 24(4):547-68. DOI:10.1177/0898264311432310 · 1.56 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Prevention Research Centers Healthy Aging Research Network (PRC-HAN), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Healthy Aging program, was created in 2001 to help develop partnerships and create a research agenda that promotes healthy aging. The nine universities that participate in the network use their expertise in aging research to collaborate with their communities and other partners to develop and implement health promotion interventions for older adults at the individual, organizational, environmental, and policy levels. The population of older adults in the United States is growing rapidly; approximately 20% of Americans will be aged 65 years or older by 2030. The health and economic impact of an aging society compel the CDC and the public health community to place increased emphasis on preventing unnecessary disease, disability, and injury among older Americans. The PRC-HAN has a broad research agenda that addresses health-promoting skills and behaviors, disease and syndrome topics, and knowledge domains. The network chose physical activity for older adults as its initial focus for research and has initiated two networkwide projects: a comprehensive, multisite survey that collected information on the capacity, content, and accessibility of physical activity programs for older adults and a peer-reviewed publication that describes the role of public health in promoting physical activity among older adults. In addition to participating in the core research area, each network member works independently with its community committee on PRC-HAN activities. As a result, the network is 1) expanding prevention research for older adults and their communities; 2) promoting the translation and dissemination of findings to key stakeholders; 3) strengthening PRC-HAN capacity through partnerships and expanded funding; and 4) stimulating the adoption of policies and programs by engaging policymakers, planners, and practitioners. In 2003, the PRC-HAN initiated an internal evaluation to better define the network's contributions to healthy aging, formalize internal processes, and better equip itself to serve as a model for other PRC thematic networks. The PRC-HAN is conducting a pilot evaluation for eventual inclusion in the PRC national evaluation. The PRC-HAN has established itself as an effective research network to promote healthy aging. It has developed trust and mutual respect among participants, forged strong ties to local communities, and shown the ability to combine its expertise in healthy aging with that of partners in national, state, and local organizations.
    Preventing chronic disease 02/2006; 3(1):A17. · 1.96 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Little is known about spatial inequalities and potential access to the food environment in rural areas. In this study, we assessed the food environment in a 6-county rural region of Texas (11,567 km2) through ground-truthed methods that included direct observation and on-site Global Positioning System technology to examine the relationship between neighborhood inequalities (e.g., socioeconomic deprivation and minority composition) and network distance from all 101 rural neighborhoods to the nearest food store (FS). Neighborhood deprivation was determined from socioeconomic characteristics using 2000 census block group (CBG) data. Network distances were calculated from the population-weighted center of each CBG to the nearest supermarket, grocery, convenience, and discount store. Multiple regression models examined associations among deprivation, minority composition, population density, and network distance to the nearest FS. The median distance to the nearest supermarket was 14.9 km one way (range 0.12 to 54.0 km). The distance decreased with increasing deprivation, minority composition, and population density. The worst deprived neighborhoods with the greatest minority composition had better potential spatial access to the nearest FS. For >20% of all rural residents, their neighborhoods were at least 17.7 km from the nearest supermarket or full-line grocery or 7.6 km from the nearest convenience store. This makes food shopping a challenge, especially in rural areas that lack public transportation and where many have no vehicular access. Knowledge of potential access to the food environment is essential for combining environmental approaches and health interventions so that families, especially those in rural areas, can make healthier food choices.
    Journal of Nutrition 04/2008; 138(3):620-7. · 4.23 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Jun 19, 2014