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Goal H: Disseminate information to the public, medical and scientific communities, advocates and patient organizations, and policy makers 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 certain 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 is challenging. 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. Also, developments in technology quickly and dramatically are 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, multi-year, multi-media efforts engaging community organizations already in place, such as NIA's Go4Life physical activity and exercise initiative and the Institute's Alzheimer's Disease and Education Referral (ADEAR) Center outreach on cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's, may be needed to inform, persuade, convince, and guide behavior change. Such efforts can be most successful when engaging important intermediaries representing health care providers, aging network 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, policy and legislation, and advocacy. These constituencies are vitally 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. The NIA will continue to engage these communities in the planning and conduct of research as appropriate and in the dissemination of research results.

To ensure that research directions and study results are communicated as widely as possible, NIA will:

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 media.
  • Explore successful networks for the transfer of research knowledge and to evaluate interventions for older adults. NIA will continue to work with other federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private profit and nonprofit sectors to ensure that 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 an impact on policies and programs. NIA will develop and maintain relationships with the traditional and digital media, providing evidence-based information and access to experts in aging and Alzheimer's research.
  • Maintain and upgrade Go4Life. NIA will reach out to the public, agencies and organizations, health professionals, and the media about the Go4Life campaign the NIA-led federal government's primary resource to promote physical activity and exercise among adults 50 and older. Joined by partners in the public and private sector to work with older adults in communities, the evidence-based campaign will use the Internet, social media, print, and other means to provide information and motivation for a diverse audience of older adults about exercise.
  • Provide information to support the training of 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.

H-2: Disseminate information to the public, medical and scientific communities, advocacy organizations, and policy makers about research and research findings.

  • 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, considering the best format for transmitting this information. We will continue to provide print materials for older adults without access to digital and online resources, at the same time employing responsive design and web analytics to enhance and expand use of new technologies for health information as older adults become increasingly adept at using digital and online resources.
  • 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, and other state-of-the-art communication technologies.
  • Make available health information and reports of research activities and findings on the NIA Web site and through other communications channels. The Web site will continue to serve NIA's information hub for the public, researchers, health professionals, media, advocates, and policymakers interested in health, aging and research. Mobile applications, social media and other resources will provide information directly or invite audiences to the website. The NIA recognizes the different needs of these audiences and to the extent possible, it continue to tailor the information it shares, using a variety of outreach channels to enhance communication to specific audiences. These include the new blog for researchers and policymakers, webinars, content syndication, YouTube postings, meetings with groups and organizations, staff and leadership speeches, 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. This information center, the federal government's premier public information on Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive change, will continue to provide and expand evidence-based materials about these conditions, research, participation in clinical trials, and caregiving. The ADEAR Center is an important partner with the NIA Alzheimer's Disease Centers and researchers and clinicians in study recruitment and other aspects of community outreach.
  • Operate and promote NIHSeniorHealth.gov. Developed to recognize the cognitive and visual limitations many older adults may have in seeking health information online, NIHSeniorHealth will continue to serve as an age-focused, easy-to-read Internet resource. Its features, which are upgraded technically as new generations of older consumers become more proficient in web use, will be of particular importance as the population ages.
  • Develop materials for special audiences and diverse populations. These may include non-English language materials and materials for people with limited literacy.
  • Support national education campaigns to encourage healthy practices among older adults. These include not only the Go4Life campaign but also collaborations with other federal agencies, as well as state and community efforts.