The overall goal of the Boston Roybal Center (BRC) is to develop and test behavior change strategies to promote healthy aging, especially among adults at high risk for poor health outcomes. It is widely known that physical activity is broadly beneficial for physical, psychological, and cognitive aspects of health. However, the number of middle-aged and older adults who are regularly active remains low. The BRC will engage in the translation of research evidence to interventions that motivate and support sustained increases in physical activity. We selected the thematic focus: Novel interventions exploiting the malleability or plasticity of biobehavioral risk mechanisms associated with adverse aging outcomes to guide our work.
The specific aims of the project are to: 1) Conduct innovative translational research consistent with the Center theme and based on solid research evidence from the social and behavioral sciences to increase physical activity in middle-aged and older adults; 2) Advance theory and empirical findings on behavior change processes and mechanisms that can be translated for use in intervention studies to promote healthy aging; 3) Facilitate innovative interdisciplinary work across five Boston-area institutions under the leadership of the Management and Administrative Core and the Pilot Core. The project includes a number of innovative mechanisms applied to our work. It recognizes the multiple influences on human behavior and applies a unique multicomponent model of behavior change utilizing social support and self-regulatory processes. It takes a personalized approach to behavior change with a focus on setting meaningful goals and promoting self-efficacy and positive affect. It will target underserved populations of middle-aged and elderly adults at risk for poor health outcomes. To facilitate this we will partner with community organizations serving vulnerable middle-aged and older adults to inform and benefit from the research and activities of the Center. It uses a common core of behavioral measures that will enable us to compare different pilot study interventions and continually enrich and expand the conceptual framework. The BRC has successfully engaged an interdisciplinary team of investigators who bring the extensive resources of five universities and multiple professional perspectives to the Center. Ultimately, we will use the information gained from the pilot projects to refine the techniques and will design and test full scale interventions designed to improve health and quality of life among middle-aged and older adults.

Public Health Relevance

Physical activity is a promising non-pharmacological, non-invasive, and cost-effective method of health-promotion, however, only a small percentage of middle-aged and older adults engage in it regularly. The Boston Roybal Center will develop and test interventions to increase and sustain an active lifestyle, to promote health and well-being, especially among those who are at risk for poor health outcomes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Center Core Grants (P30)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAG1)
Program Officer
Onken, Lisa
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Brandeis University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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