Research Brief: Older people as research partners – a systematic review of implementation and impact

Published: June 14, 2021

Patient and public partners are most likely to be engaged in the execution of research and least likely to be engaged in the preparatory stages of research, say experts from the MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging.

These findings are included in a research brief of a systematic review of the literature on how, when, and with what impact older adult research partners contribute to health research.

The research brief entitled Older people as research partners: a systematic review of implementation and impact provides a summary of key points, what the research is about, how the research was carried out, results and recommendations.

The review included a search of five databases of published literature from 2000 to 2019 to find English articles about engaging older adults as partners in health research in any care setting (e.g., acute care, long-term care, community). Most of the 33 included studies that were carried out in the community setting.

This research brief and systematic review were developed by the Collaborative’s patient engagement group of experts, led by Drs. Rebecca Ganann and Julia Abelson. Their aim is to advance the science of patient engagement to ensure representation of patient needs, perspectives, and aspirations at all levels of health care decision-making.

The MIRA | Collaborative for Health and Aging is co-led by Maureen Markle-Reid, Co-Scientific Director of the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU) and Parminder Raina, Scientific Director of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA).

To access the research brief, click here.

MIRA | Collaborative Webinar Series: Engaging and partnering with older adults in the MIRA Collaborative

Join us Wednesday, June 2 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET for the second MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging webinar, “Engaging and partnering with older adults in the MIRA Collaborative: implementation and evaluation.” Click here to register.

During this webinar, Drs. Rebecca Ganann, Julia Abelson, Maggie MacNeil and patient partner Penelope Petrie will help attendees gain an understanding of the background of patient-oriented research; learn and discuss principles that guide the engagement of older people; and gain insight into the results of a systematic review of the literature on the implementation and impact of patient or public involvement in health research and how patient partners contributed to that review.

New learning module aims to advance patient-oriented research in aging

Published: April 13, 2021

Health and aging research experts at the MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging have created an online learning module to help researchers develop and expand projects into successful patient-centered innovations. A one-minute trailer provides a quick overview that outlines the content of the learning module.

The Scale and Spread of Health Interventions Learning Module is for researchers who want to bridge the gap between aging research and clinical practice. It provides researchers with the tools to successfully plan and scale-up effective health-care programs.

It is designed to help researchers gain an understanding of how to:

  • assess scalability;
  • develop a four step scale-up plan;
  • implement a scale-up plan;
  • learn from success of the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit Community Partnership Program and Health Tapestry projects.

Funded by the Ontario SPOR SUPPORT Unit (OSSU), the Collaborative was formed in 2019 by the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA) and the McMaster School of Nursing’s Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU). Parminder Raina and Maureen Markle-Reid, who are scientific directors of MIRA and ACHRU respectively, co-lead the Collaborative with Michael Wilson, Assistant Director of the McMaster Health Forum.

This new learning module was developed by the Collaborative’s patient-centred innovation group of experts, led by Drs. Maureen Markle-Reid and Jenny Ploeg, Scientific Directors of the ACHRU and Drs. Kathryn Fisher and Larkin Lamarche. Their aim is to support the co-design, implementation, evaluation, scale and spread of integrated, patient-centred innovations.

To watch the one-minute module trailer, click here.

To access the learning module, click here.

Patient Partners

The MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging is designed to support patient-oriented research in aging. We aim to engage older adults as patient, caregiver and public research partners in all activities of the Collaborative to ensure that the needs, perspectives and aspirations of older adults are reflected in our work.

Our Approach: Building Capacity

We recognize that getting to know our patient partners is paramount to optimizing our approaches and ensuring positive engagement experiences. We have developed a virtual forum, where we as researchers, trainees and staff can learn about the unique aging lens our patient partners bring to the Collaborative.

Meet our Team of Patient Partners

Tina Falbo

Tina Falbo joined the MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging in 2019. She is a McMaster Humanities Alumni and retired teacher from the Hamilton Wentworth School Board. Tina was a full-time caregiver to both of her elderly parents for several years until their recent passing. She has an interest in healthy aging as well as a genuine desire to make a difference and improve the lives of older adults. Tina is interested in sharing her experiences and learning from a formidable team of world class experts.

Joyce Luyckx

Joyce Luyckx joined the MIRA | Collaborative in 2019. She enjoyed a career as a senior executive in finance and held several management roles in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Joyce is a co-caregiver of her elderly parents and recently assumed the role of care partner to her spouse. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was an active volunteer at Maple Villa Long Term Care Centre in Burlington, ON. Joyce is a firm believer in continuous learning and she is interested in improving the lives of older adults as well as understanding how research can positively shape and address the growing needs of the aging population.

Donna Weldon

Donna Weldon joined the MIRA | Collaborative in 2019. Volunteer work has always been important to her and, pre-pandemic, Donna was engaged in a number of volunteer activities. As much as she enjoyed that work, as a retired health professional, Donna missed the opportunity to learn new things and exchange ideas with colleagues about research. The Collaborative offers her this opportunity as well as the chance to apply her knowledge, skills and experiences to influence policy impacting older adults.

Penelope Petrie

Penelope Petrie joined the MIRA | Collaborative in 2019. She is a retired teacher and a lifelong learner. Penelope is a volunteer with a number of organizations in Hamilton and McMaster University that focus on issues impacting older adults. She joined the Collaborative because it offers several opportunities to learn about aging research, influence health policy, and promote healthy aging. Penelope’s goal is to ensure best practices are being implemented in communities in need.

MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging webinar series: Pivoting a large-scale aging research initiative due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Join us Friday, February 26 from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. ET for the first MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging webinar, “Pivoting a large-scale aging research initiative due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Click here to register.

During this webinar, Dr. Brenda Vrkljan and Dr. Marla Beauchamp will describe the early steps and strategies implemented by their multidisciplinary research team to pivot their large-scale aging and mobility study in the wake of COVID-19 and the corresponding health measures in place. Using examples from their work, they will highlight how partnering with older adults and other stakeholders can ensure the research conducted is relevant, meaningful, and scientifically impactful – even in these uncertain times. This webinar will also invite attendees to share their tips and strategies for conducting research during the pandemic.

The overall aims of the MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging webinar series, led by Dr. Vrkljan, are to highlight the research on aging at McMaster University across several health research topic areas and disciplines, with a focus on patient engagement tools and resources and the impacts of patient-oriented research in aging. The webinar series is aimed at researchers and trainees, including other OSSU Centres and SPOR-funded entities, researchers from other institutions, older adult research partners, community partners, knowledge users and stakeholders interested in research in aging and patient-oriented research in aging.

Objectives of the webinar series are to:

  • Enhance the awareness, knowledge, and skills of diverse audiences (e.g., researchers, community partners involved in research, older adult research partners, trainees, health decision-makers, other OSSU Centres) to conduct patient-oriented research in aging.
  • Facilitate partnerships and collaborations across diverse audiences and showcase ongoing opportunities for multidisciplinary research and engagement opportunities in aging.
  • Simulate a virtual panel discussion and create an interactive online discussion for diverse audiences to share their perspectives, successes, and challenges as well as key results in all aspects of their research in aging, implementation of research in aging, and patient engagement tools and frameworks on research in aging.
  • Foster knowledge generation, exchange, and translation across multiple research areas in aging and for diverse audiences, with a focus on capacity building, patient-oriented research, and issues in equity, diversity and inclusion.

Click here for more details on this webinar series.

McMaster receives $1M to lead COVID-19 evidence network

Published: January 13, 2021

To ensure decision-makers have access to the best COVID-19 science in a timely manner, the federal government is investing $1 million to support the COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-makers (COVID-END) hosted at McMaster University.

The network, led by MIRA Collaborative member, John Lavis will bring together experts to collaborate and rapidly synthesize the best available evidence across the full breadth of Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

By providing timely access to the latest research on public health measures, clinical management, health-system arrangements, and economic and social impacts, policymakers will better understand the impact that these measures have on Canadians’ health and safety.

In announcing the grant, federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, said: “Our response to COVID-19 has always been informed by the latest science and evidence, which we get from our internationally-respected Canadian researchers. 

“Through the COVID-19 Evidence Network, our best and brightest will work with provincial, national and international partners so that decision-makers get the information we need to keep Canadians safe throughout the next phase of this pandemic. Through this network, we will ensure that Canada continues to be a global leader in COVID-19 research.”

Lavis, who is also a McMaster professor of health research methods, evidence, and impact, said the network will work with Canadian and international partners to better develop and coordinate groundbreaking research on COVID-19, while reducing the duplication of efforts so experts can focus on the latest research and developments to keep Canadians safe.

“The COVID-19 Evidence Network will use a highly collaborative approach to rapidly synthesizing the best available evidence about key COVID-19 topics – in timelines ranging from four hours to 10 days – in response to requests from decision-makers,” said Lavis.

“The network will identify emergent issues where synthesized evidence is needed as well as profile the best available evidence syntheses on all key COVID-19 decisions. We will work with both domestic and international partners to reduce duplication and enhance coordination in the COVID-19 evidence response.”

The Canadian government is supporting the COVID-19 Evidence Network through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) so they may provide the latest evidence to decision-makers at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels.

Formation of the network also recognizes that while the arrival of vaccines brings hope for the eventual ending of the pandemic, there are still critical knowledge gaps that must be filled to further support ongoing decision-making as we respond to this virus to keep Canadians safe.

“The COVID-19 Evidence Network will focus on synthesizing the evidence we already have and identifying evidence gaps that exist,” said Michael Strong, CIHR president.

“The network will use a highly collaborative approach to rapidly synthesizing evidence for improved decision-making. To ensure sensitivity to how COVID-19 and COVID-19 responses can affect different groups in different ways, the network will apply principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in all of its work.”

Co-leads with Lavis on the network are Jeremy Grimshaw from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Andrea Tricco of the SPOR Evidence Alliance, which is based at St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto, and Nancy Santesso of Cochrane Canada, based at McMaster University. Lavis also holds the Canada Research Chair in Evidence-informed Health Systems.

The network will build on nine months of experiences in preparing COVID-19 rapid evidence profiles and on many years of experience with the SPOR Evidence Alliance and Cochrane Canada in preparing rapid evidence syntheses, said Lavis.

The project will maintain a publicly available inventory of the best evidence syntheses for COVID-19 decisions to ensure that Canadian decision-makers have the most updated science available when needed, and will establish a Canadian panel to complement its existing global horizon-scanning panel that monitors emerging issues where evidence syntheses are needed.

This article was first published by the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University. Read the original article

Partnering principles and strategies: A guidance document

The following guidance document is to be used to plan for and involve Patient, Caregiver, and Public Research Partners in the activities and projects facilitated by the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA) | Collaborative for Health & Aging. Bellow, we outline the core principles that should guide the involvement of Patients, Caregivers and Public Research Partners in activities of the Collaborative and the best practices for carrying this out.