Skip to main content

Goal H: Disseminate information to the public; scientific and medical communities; stakeholder advocacy, community and older adult-support organizations; the media; and policymakers about research and interventions

Communication efforts play a critical role in educating the public about research advances to improve health and well-being in later life. Health communication activities can increase the public's awareness of a specific aging issue, problem, or solution; reinforce knowledge, attitudes, or health behaviors; dispel misconceptions about aging; and encourage individual or collective action. Health education programs, activities, and materials can also inform, influence, and motivate the public.

Communicating effectively about health can be challenging because such information is often complex and technical. Moreover, the information may be inconclusive, controversial, contradictory, or subject to change as new research findings are released. Health information may also conflict with long-held personal beliefs. In addition, developments in technology are quickly and dramatically shifting the landscape for communicating health information. To succeed, health communication programs and materials must be based on an appreciation of the needs, interests and capabilities of the target audience, often with special considerations for physical and cognitive changes that come with age that may affect how information is received.

Large scale, multiyear, multimedia efforts engaging community organizations, such as ongoing NIA efforts to promote healthy aging and clinical trials participation, are needed to inform, persuade, convince, and guide behavior change. Such efforts may include engaging key representatives of health care providers, aging-related networks, and community services, advocates in aging and age-related diseases, the media, and others.

NIA communications are directly focused as well on professional audiences in research, clinical care and service delivery, and policy/legislation. These constituencies are interested not only in evidence-based health information, but also in NIA's budget, grants and review policies and practices, funding opportunities, emerging research programs and priorities, and more. NIA will continue to engage these communities in the planning and conduct of research as appropriate and in the dissemination of research results, and we will work to ensure that research directions and study results are communicated as widely as possible.

Goal H objectives:

Approach

H-1: Increase awareness and promote adoption of evidence-based strategies to improve health and quality of life of older adults.

  • Develop, test, and conduct health communication programs and outreach activities to inform the public about the interventions and health-related progress validated by the results of research on aging. We will craft and deliver messages and materials based on research to understand how the various audiences perceive and react to health messages, how the public is persuaded to change behavior, and how people in general — and older adults in particular — respond to various tactics.

  • Explore successful networks for the transfer of research knowledge and to evaluate interventions for older adults. NIA will continue to work with other NIH Institutes and Centers, federal agencies, state and local governments, and both the private for-profit and not-for-profit sectors to ensure information about research and findings on diagnostics, treatment, prevention strategies, and behavioral and community interventions are widely shared, and that strategies are developed and embraced for effective impact on policies and programs. We will develop and maintain relationships with key journalists through both traditional and evolving media, providing evidence-based information and access to experts on aging and AD/ADRD research.

  • Provide information that supports training for people who work with older adults. We will provide professional societies, community organizations, and academic institutions with research-based information that can be used in training geriatricians, social workers, counselors, and other community professionals and volunteers to work effectively with older adults and to implement evidence-based interventions.

  • Promote the importance of exercise and physical activity, nutrition, and cognitive health among older adults. NIA will continue to use its website, social media, print, and other communications tactics to provide information and motivation for a diverse audience of older adults about the role of exercise/physical activity, nutrition, and cognitive health in healthy aging.

H-2: Disseminate information to the public; scientific and medical communities; stakeholder advocacy, community, and older adult-support organizations; the media; and policymakers about research and interventions.

  • Develop appropriate materials and programs for a variety of target audiences. We will continue to work to overcome age, gender, cultural, and language barriers to the effective communication of health information, always considering the best format(s) for transmitting this information. We will continue to provide print materials for older adults who do not have access to digital and online resources. As older adults become increasingly adept at using digital and online resources, we will continue to employ mobile-friendly/responsive design and web analytics to enhance and expand use of new technologies — such as voice search capabilities — for health information.

  • Rapidly and effectively disseminate information to the medical community. We will make widely available the latest advances in geriatric medicine, research on aging, and related health data through publications, professional education materials, public service announcements, videos, as well as new and emerging communications platforms and technologies.

  • Make available health information and reports of research activities and findings on the NIA website and through other communications channels. The NIA website will continue to serve as our institute’s information hub for the public, researchers, health professionals, stakeholder organizations, journalists, and policymakers interested in health, aging, and research. Mobile applications, social media, and other resources will enable our information to reach our audiences directly and invite them to learn more via our website. NIA recognizes the different needs of these audiences, and to the extent possible, will continue to tailor the information it shares using a variety of outreach channels to enhance communications. These include the Inside NIA blog for researchers and stakeholders, webinars, videos, social media postings, meetings with stakeholder groups and organizations, staff and leadership presentations, and more. NIA will continue to proactively explore ways to maintain and upgrade communications with both established and new audiences.

  • Maintain and promote the NIA Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. Through this NIA information center — the federal government's premier public information on Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive change — the institute will continue to provide and expand evidence-based materials about these conditions, related research, participation in clinical trials, and caregiving.

  • Facilitate and support recruitment for Alzheimer’s and aging clinical trials and inclusion of older adults in research. NIA will continue to convene experts and develop resources to enhance older adult participation in research, including but not limited to maintaining, evolving, and promoting the NIA Alzheimer’s & Dementia Outreach, Recruitment & Engagement (ADORE) resources. ADORE contains hundreds of resources on topics related to the engagement, recruitment, and retention of participants in clinical trials and studies on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. NIA will continue to develop this website to help researchers better engage with their research communities. In addition, we will continue with related recruitment strategy and public outreach efforts through tactics such as testimonial videos.

  • Develop materials for special audiences and diverse populations. These may include non-English language materials and materials for those with limited literacy.

  • Support national education efforts to encourage healthy practices among older adults. These may include collaborations with other federal agencies, as well as state and community efforts.