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Open AccessArticle

Employing Participatory Citizen Science Methods to Promote Age-Friendly Environments Worldwide

1
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
2
Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
3
Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA
4
JDC Eshel, Jerusalem 91034, Israel
5
Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia
6
Department of Physical Education, Sports and Recreation, Universidad de La Frontera, Temuco 4780000, Chile
7
School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
8
Postgraduate Program in Health Technology (PPGTS), Polytechnic School, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná (PUCPR), Curitiba (PR) 80215-901, Brazil
9
Centre on Aging, and Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, MB R3T 2N2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1541; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051541
Received: 19 December 2019 / Revised: 20 February 2020 / Accepted: 24 February 2020 / Published: 27 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Participatory Research in Health Promotion)
The trajectory of aging is profoundly impacted by the physical and social environmental contexts in which we live. While “top–down” policy activities can have potentially wide impacts on such contexts, they often take time, resources, and political will, and therefore can be less accessible to underserved communities. This article describes a “bottom–up”, resident-engaged method to advance local environmental and policy change, called Our Voice, that can complement policy-level strategies for improving the health, function, and well-being of older adults. Using the World Health Organization’s age-friendly cities global strategy, we describe the Our Voice citizen science program of research that has specifically targeted older adults as environmental change agents to improve their own health and well-being as well as that of their communities. Results from 14 Our Voice studies that have occurred across five continents demonstrate that older adults can learn to use mobile technology to systematically capture and collectively analyze their own data. They can then successfully build consensus around high-priority issues that can be realistically changed and work effectively with local stakeholders to enact meaningful environmental and policy changes that can help to promote healthy aging. The article ends with recommended next steps for growing the resident-engaged citizen science field to advance the health and welfare of all older adults. View Full-Text
Keywords: citizen science; participatory research; older adults; aging; age-friendly environments; WHO; health promotion; health equity; digital health; built environment citizen science; participatory research; older adults; aging; age-friendly environments; WHO; health promotion; health equity; digital health; built environment
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King, A.C.; King, D.K.; Banchoff, A.; Solomonov, S.; Ben Natan, O.; Hua, J.; Gardiner, P.; Goldman Rosas, L.; Rodriguez Espinosa, P.; Winter, S.J.; Sheats, J.; Salvo, D.; Aguilar-Farias, N.; Stathi, A.; Akira Hino, A.; Porter, M.M.; On behalf of the Our Voice Global Citizen Science Research Network. Employing Participatory Citizen Science Methods to Promote Age-Friendly Environments Worldwide. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1541.

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