Older Coresearchers Exploring Age-Friendly Communities: An “Insider” Perspective on the Benefits and Challenges of Peer-Research

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Abstract

Background and Objectives
A growing body of work suggests that co- or peer-research may contribute to understanding the complex health and social problems experienced in later life. Yet, only a limited number of studies have involved older persons as partners in the research process. Moreover, in conflict with the philosophy of participatory research, the views of those acting as coresearchers tend to be ignored. This paper gives an “insider” account of the process of coresearch, drawing upon the experiences of older people trained to undertake a community-based research project.

Research Design and Methods
Eighteen older adults were recruited and trained as coresearchers to take a leading role in a study aimed at developing “age-friendly” communities in Manchester, UK. The coresearchers completed 68 interviews with residents aged 60 years and over who were experiencing isolation within their neighborhood. The findings are based upon four reflection meetings held with the coresearchers, all of which were transcribed with thematic analysis conducted using Atlas.ti.

Results
Coresearchers identified a range of advantages associated with the coresearch approach, these linked to the recruitment of participants, quality of data, potential for social change as well as personal benefits. They also identified ethical, methodological, and practical issues encountered during the research.

Discussion and Implications
The study demonstrates the contribution of coresearch for expanding methodological diversity, accessing seldom heard populations, and utilizing the skills and resources of older people. The research also highlights the opportunities for partnerships between older people and local stakeholders to facilitate community change and social action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-548
Number of pages11
JournalThe Gerontologist
Volume59
Issue number3
Early online date1 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2019

Keywords

  • community-based research
  • Coresearch
  • Empowerment
  • Participatory research
  • Qualitative methods

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Cathie Marsh Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

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