Online Program

Traditional academic institutions and aging policy research: Identified challenges and emerging opportunities

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Lisa M. Troy, PhD, Department of Nutrition, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA
Kathryn G. Kietzman, PhD, MSW, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Los Angeles, CA
Carmen R. Green, M.D., Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI
Steven P. Wallace, PhD, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Gerontology research on aging policy is essential to address the needs of a racially and ethnically diverse aging population. Yet the researchers engaged in such efforts are often overlooked, not supported, or actively discouraged in many academic settings. Objectives: To identify barriers and facilitators to developing a health policy relevant aging research agenda and additional challenges associated with research on underserved aging populations. Methods: Faculty members participated in focus groups. Key Informant interviews complement focus group information. Participants were recruited from the membership and attendance lists of several academic programs and conferences. All participants were tenured or in tenure-track academic appointments at a U.S. college or university. Results: Participants were personally committed to conducting health policy relevant research despite institutional barriers, such as fewer funding opportunities and less value attributed to policy research than other research types. Participants noted that creating and using policy research typically required extra effort (e.g., building relationships with stakeholders, developing products for dissemination). Participants who felt more supported in doing policy research spoke of the merits of mentorship within and outside of their academic institutions, and demand for the research by policy decision-makers. Many also spoke of their desire to make a difference by influencing policy change. Conclusions: Findings from this study may be used to reevaluate academic practices and cultures that do not recognize and encourage scholars engaged in aging policy research, and to help interested institutions foster a more supportive climate. Recommended strategies to advance policy research will be useful across disciplines.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe barriers and facilitators to conducting health policy relevant research at traditional academic institutions; Identify strategies for supporting health policy relevant research at traditional academic institutions.

Keyword(s): Policy/Policy Development, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: A primary area of research is on academic institutional support for health policy-relevant research agendas. I am an epidemiologist that also focuses on healthy aging including research on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and chronic disease prevention. I developed an Index to measure adherence to the 2010 DGA and thus conduct research relevant for policy-decisions
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.