A team at the Rutgers University Hub for Aging Collaboration, School of Social Work, has been approved for a $250,000 funding award through the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards program, an initiative of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

The funds will support a multi-organizational, national team to engage older adults and community leaders who are part of the Village Movement as partners in cutting-edge comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) on healthy aging. Villages are a 21st-century structure for community-based supports on aging. They typically operate as nonprofit organizations that provide services and programs through neighbors-helping-neighbors volunteer arrangements. This project will strengthen mutual understanding and visioning among Village leaders and researchers toward the design of strategic research projects that focus on the outcomes that matter most to older adult Village participants.

Emily A. Greenfield, PhD, Professor of Social Work and Director of the Rutgers Hub for Aging Collaboration, will lead the engagement project in partnership with the Village to Village Network and RAND Corporation. The project will involve engaging Village leaders across the United States in strategic discussions on designing studies that advance rigorous knowledge on how to optimize the effectiveness of Villages for health outcomes that matter to adults as they age in place. Project activities will include focus groups, regional summits for Village participants, and the formation of a Villages Healthy Aging Research ambassadors group. The ambassadors group will facilitate shared leadership among the researchers and older adult participants to chart the future of CER with Villages.

“Villages are a community-based organization that ‘walk the walk’ of patient-centeredness,” said Dr. Greenfield. “There is tremendous value in partnering with the pioneers of these community-rooted, grassroots, member-supported, innovative organizations to advance collective understanding of how we can strengthen communities toward a better future for healthy aging in the United States.”

“We are honored to work with Rutgers and RAND on this project,” said Barbara Sullivan, executive director of Village to Village Network, the membership organization that provides expert guidance and support to the nation’s Villages. “Beyond anecdotal information, little is currently known about the health outcomes associated with belonging to a Village. Importantly, this research project will engage Village members in data gathering and designing research that focuses on the elements they consider most important. It will be a first step to beginning a dialogue between Villages and the research community that will enable us to better define and understand the impact of Villages on their members.”

“Developing Collaborative Capacity for Healthy Aging PCOR-CER with Villages” is part of a portfolio of projects that PCORI has funded to help develop a community of patients and other stakeholders equipped to participate as partners in CER and disseminate PCORI-funded study results. Through the Engagement Award Program, PCORI is creating an expansive network of individuals, communities, and organizations interested in and able to participate in, share, and use patient-centered CER.

According to Greg Martin, PCORI’s Acting Chief Engagement and Dissemination Officer, “This project was selected for Engagement Award funding because it will build a community equipped to participate as partners in CER and develop partnerships and infrastructure to disseminate PCORI-funded research results. We look forward to working with the Rutgers Hub for Aging Collaboration throughout the course of their two-year project.”

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative clinical effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work. The Rutgers University-led project and the other projects approved for funding by the PCORI Engagement Award Program were selected through a highly competitive review process in which applications were assessed for their ability to meet PCORI’s engagement goals and objectives, as well as program criteria. For more information about PCORI’s funding to support engagement efforts, visit http://www.pcori.org/content/eugene-washington-pcori-engagement-awards/