The group provides opportunities for healthcare professionals to become involved in research and for existing researchers to access a network of skilled research support staff and wider patient populations. The group undertakes tasks including:
Being listed on the NIHR portfolio makes a study eligible to receive Comprehensive Local Research Network or NHS Research and Development funding and gives extra recognition and profile for investigators. The Age and Ageing Specialty Group provides help and guidance for studies to get onto the portfolio, and then regularly reviews the performance of the studies once they are on the portfolio. Sometimes this is done in conjunction with another specialty group if a study is thought to overlap with it. The performance review depends on investigators faithfully providing monthly recruitment data, and the Age and Ageing Specialty Group is one of the groups that has improved most in this area in the last 12 months.
You can view studies that are open and currently recruiting on the Age and Ageing portfolio database
By reviewing their performance, the Age and Ageing Specialty Group is able to support studies to deliver to target and on time. This may involve the Age and Ageing Specialty Group helping a study to recruit by giving access to a pool of research experts and to a wider patient population. The Age and Ageing Specialty Group has successfully supported a number of studies under its guidance so far, which you can view on the Age and Ageing portfolio database.
You can also read the final articles reporting the findings from a selection of the studies supported by the Age and Ageing Specialty Group in the 'Published studies' section of the Resources page.
The Age and Ageing Specialty Group is very keen to work with other key stakeholders in ageing research, including organisations such as funders, industry, or other research consortia. The group works closely with the charity Age UK and Dr Libby Archer who is Research Manager at Age UK, has joined the Age and Ageing Specialty Group as a co-opted member. The Age and Ageing Specialty Group are working together to promote high quality ageing research and to lobby for an end to ageism in research.
The Age and Ageing Specialty Group understands the importance of patient-centred care within the NHS and has a strong patient and public focus to its work. Mr David Scott is a lay older member of the specialty group. He brings experience as Chair of his local GP Patient group and adds an older person perspective to the work of the Age and Ageing Specialty Group. Together with Mr Scott and it's PPI Lead, Dr Sheila Kennedy, the Age and Ageing Specialty Group continues to create further opportunities to involve older patients and the public in all stages of research. Dr Kennedy is a Researcher at the University of Sheffield and has a strong background in developing PPI within particular research studies.
Embedding clinical research in the NHS
The Age and Ageing Specialty Group are on a mission to ensure all outpatients' letters for clinics and Day Hospitals they work in contain a statement about research. Members are working with their NHS organisation to change outpatient letters across the NHS. Older peoples' services in Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, South London, and Tayside in Scotland have already incorporated the following statement:
The XXXX Hospital is a teaching hospital and medical students may observe whilst you are being treated. If you would prefer not to have a medical student present, please inform your doctor when you attend. We are also very active in clinical research. Your doctor may therefore approach you now or in the future to discuss possible participation in a research project. In both cases, non-participation in research studies or a preference not to have medical students present will not affect your care in any way.
From producing and distributing its own information leaflet to participating in stakeholder events such as national British Geriatrics Society meetings, and CLRN and devolved nations ageing research meetings, the Age and Ageing Specialty Group is committed to raising the profile of ageing research. Maintaining a high profile is key to achieving greater outreach in the research and funding community and attracting more studies to the portfolio, including industry-sponsored projects. You can download the Age and Ageing Specialty Group leaflet from the homepage.
Publishing papers to raise the profile of and improve research
The Age and Ageing Specialty Group has published a pivotal paper on the recruitment of older people to research in the leading European scientific journal, Age and Ageing. The paper is jam-packed with practical advice from leading researchers on how best to optimise recruitment and retention of older people, and lambasts the continued systematic exclusion of older people from major clinical trials across a range of specialties. You can read the paper online at
This influential article was the basis for a leading article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on 26th May 2012 “Why the Exclusion of Older People from Clinical Research Must Stop” which drew heavily on the paper.
The A&A group submitted a response to the paper citing the statement which it posted on NIHR public and researcher websites jointly with the CRNCC on Equity in Clinical Research, arguing that funders should follow the NIHR lead and be similarly vigilant to ensure that ageist grant proposals (with unjustified upper age cut-offs) are not being supported.
Promoting awareness of new initiatives
A new initiative called ENRICH - Enabling New Research in Care Homes - is under way. This is a Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DeNDRoN) project which has been proposed in response to the Ministerial Advisory Group on Dementia Research (MAGDR) report and aims to:
- Create a network of research-enabled care homes
- Ensure that all older people in care homes can be included in research if they wish
- Ensure that care home staff, residents, and relatives' priorities inform research priorities.
The initiative includes provision of a web-based toolkit to support developing and delivering research in care homes. For more details see http:www.dendron.org.uk/enrich
Linking with research across Europe
Members of the Age and Ageing Specialty Group recently contributed to the development of the ageing research agenda for Europe: "The Future of Ageing Research in Europe: A Road Map
". The road map identifies major themes which need to be prioritised in any future European ageing research in order to successfully address the needs of an increasing ageing population. Themes include healthy ageing, social and welfare needs, and biogerontology. For more details, see www.futurage.group.shef.ac.uk