Developing Evidence-Based Age-Friendly Policies: A Participatory Research Project


This article seeks to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of involving older people in research, policy and social change at a local level. It focuses on the ‘Belgian Ageing Studies’, a research programme which monitors the needs and quality of life among home-dwelling older people in order to provide tools for evidence-based ‘age-friendly’ policies at a local level. The research programme was developed in co-creation with older people, senior associations, senior advisory boards, local authorities and other stakeholders. Older people are involved in this research as experts and actors by playing a significant role in the development of the study as well as the data collection and the evaluation (peer research). Each sample is representative for the respective municipality, offering local governments tools for the development of evidence-based policies. A total of 159 municipalities (N = 75,319) in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy participated in the research programme. The process of the Belgian Ageing Studies programme in which older people actively engage as participants and develop a sense of co-ownership shows how participatory research can play a role in promoting evidence-based senior policies.

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