The factors that prevent disease, reduce ill-health and encourage positive attitudes in Australia's ageing population will be the focus of a new $2 million, five-year research project to be undertaken by the Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR) and the Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) at ANU.
Associate Professor Kaarin Anstey was yesterday awarded one of six joint National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council grants announced by the Minister for Ageing and the Minister for Education, Science and Training.
Associate Professor Anstey will lead a team of investigators to compile data from over 50,000 participants in nine Australian longitudinal studies of ageing to focus upon conditions that significantly contribute to the burden of disease, including cognitive decline and dementia, sensory and mobility impairment and common mental disorders such as depression.
The innovative project is the first to pool longitudinal data, allowing for sophisticated analysis of ageing, and providing an invaluable resource for researchers and policymakers. The collaborative project will also develop the first Australian dynamic micro-simulation model of the health and social outcomes of the baby boomer and older cohorts.
"The simulation will allow for evaluation of the impact of modifying risk factors, and costs associated with different trajectories of health and ageing," Associate Professor Anstey said.
"For example, we will be able to model the effect of modifiable factors such as high blood pressure and obesity on risk of dementia and mobility impairment, and to estimate the benefits that will occur from reducing these factors in the population.
"We will also examine how social engagement and household structure influence health and ageing," Associate Professor Anstey said.
The Director of the Centre for Mental Health Research, Professor Helen Christensen, said the study would prove valuable as it will result in a single source of data to direct health and social policy.
The other Chief Investigators on the project are Dr Heather Booth and Dr Judith Healy from RSSS, and Dr Peter Butterworth from CMHR.
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