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Commissioning brief for 21/39 Improving independence among older people or disabled people


19 August 2022




Please note: The Public Health Research (PHR) Programme would like to draw researchers’ attention to the commissioning brief below, which was first advertised in Spring 2021. This is a brief that we have previously advertised as a commissioned funding opportunity. We are still interested in receiving applications in this research area, as it remains a priority in our portfolio. However, please note that the commissioning brief, along with the underpinning literature searches, has not been updated since originally written.

Research question

  • What is the impact on health/health inequalities of population-level interventions aimed at improving the independence of older or disabled people?

The Public Health Research Programme wishes to commission research examining the impact on health and health inequalities of population-level interventions aimed at improving the independence of older or disabled people. Relevant populations or sub-groups may be studied, based on factors such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or other social markers. Researchers are asked to justify the group(s) they have chosen to study and the relevance of outcomes being measured to both the population being studied and relevant decision makers.

Whilst populations are different, there may be overlapping needs, and there may be interventions or groups of interventions that meet the independence support needs of various population groups and therefore offer efficiencies in systems of delivery.

Research areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  •  community-based interventions or programmes of interventions that are designed to support independence in the populations of interest
  • interventions relating to the built environment e.g. the ability to remain at home in clean, warm, affordable accommodation
  • interventions that promote mental wellbeing
  • the digital environment (although this call specifically excludes telemedicine/virtual consultations)
  • transport systems
  • age-friendly and retirement communities
  • interventions that help people remain socially engaged, continue with activities that give life meaning, contribute to family or community, feel safe, maintain choice, control, personal appearance and dignity, be free from discrimination, not feel ‘burdensome’ to their families, and continuing the role as caregiver

This call is not for research into interventions that operate at the level of the individual.

In considering interventions to be evaluated, interventions that can be, or which are, delivered ‘at scale’ should be prioritised, given these are likely to produce a greater impact. Outcomes of interventions across different groups according to demographic factors (e.g. gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status) may be explored. Research which includes collaboration with local authorities and/or relevant third sector organisations would be welcomed.

Researchers are encouraged to consider the health economic impacts of interventions. Researchers should involve people who are experts by experience in their research and can demonstrate the relevance of their proposed research to evidence users including for example: older people or disabled people, local authorities, support service providers, families and friends of older people or disabled people. Researchers need to consider how they will share their findings with policy-makers, service providers, lay and community audiences. They will be expected to be aware of other studies in this area and ensure their proposed research is complementary.

For further information on submitting an application to the PHR Programme, please refer to the supporting information for applicants submitting stage 1 and stage 2 applications.