Despite recent progress in the uptake of evidence-based health promotion (EBHP) programs
within communities, many factors contribute to the need to focus on dissemination.
These include the growth in the aging population, health care resource limitations,
and interests in preserving community-based opportunities for maintaining independence
and maximizing quality of life. For these reasons, The Prevention Research Centers’
Healthy Aging Research Network (HAN), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention’s (CDC’s) Healthy Aging Program, has as its core mission, to translate
effective healthy aging interventions into sustainable community-based programs. Researchers
and community-based stakeholders collaborate across HAN’s seven member center and
two affiliate universities (Figure 1) to develop and implement health promotion programs
for older adults at individual, organizational, environmental, and policy levels (1–3).
This commentary highlights selected HAN contributions to the EBHP movement from 2001
to 2014. These contributions serve as examples of potential models for future partnership
efforts to enhance implementation, dissemination, and sustainability of EBHP programs.
CDC Healthy Aging Research Network (HAN) member centers and affiliates (FY 2009-2014).
We Build the Foundation for EBHP Programs
The HAN has engaged researchers and practitioners from multiple disciplines and community
organizations. We use the principles of community-based participatory research in
diverse communities to develop research priorities (4–10) and to build a knowledge
base for EBHP programs (11–14). Through these partnerships, HAN researchers have developed
and tested practical tools and resources for the development, implementation and evaluation
of interventions and frameworks (e.g., RE-AIM) for their dissemination and sustainability
For instance, HAN created and tested many of the programs described in this issue
of Frontiers [i.e., EnhanceFitness, Chronic Disease Self-management Program (CDMSP),
Fit and Strong! and Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives (PEARLS) (17–23)].
Nationally, we provided technical assistance on EBHP program implementation and evaluation
for the Administration on Aging (within the Administration for Community Living) and
grantee organizations. We have documented our methods of technical assistance in numerous
peer-reviewed publications (2, 13, 19, 24, 25).
An example of our regional efforts is reflected in the HAN’s EBHP partnership with
the Health Foundation of South Florida (HFSF) and Florida Healthy Aging Collaborative.
HFSF is a not-for-profit grant-making organization with a focus on expanding access
to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved populations in Florida’s Broward,
Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties. HFSF launched a tri-county, 5-year $7.6 million health
promotion and disease prevention initiative. HAN assisted with the initial planning
and design of the initiative (e.g., program selection, evaluation components), helped
launch workshops for prospective grantees, incorporated RE-AIM into the grant proposal
structure, reviewed grant applications, and provided training materials for staff
and grantees about RE-AIM. HAN also served on the leadership council and provided
grantees with post-award technical assistance.
We Enhance Capacity
To support the translation of EBHP programs into practice and policy, HAN has helped
to enhance the capacity of researchers and practitioners. At the local, state, and
national level, HAN has mentored and provided leadership opportunities for graduate
students, early career investigators, and CDC Healthy Aging Program fellows by encouraging
them to actively participate in HAN EBHP initiatives. Working with practice partners
and national stakeholders, HAN has also built professional capacity by developing
and delivering accessible, state-of-the-science trainings and resources. These include:
conferences, online training modules (www.healthyagingprograms.org/content), monographs,
and issue briefs about EBHP practice and various aspects of program delivery and quality
assurance, physical activity, mental health, environment, and policy (26, 27).
Healthy Aging Research Network secured and leveraged a CDC conference grant to develop
and deliver research-to-practice symposia on physical activity, mental health, and
environmental policies. This series brought together national research and community
partners to strategize how best to disseminate and sustain effective community-based
programs and practices. For this series, HAN engaged new partners (e.g., AARP, The
Carter Presidential Center, and the Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum, CDC
Healthy Communities Program). HAN also secured additional funds from the Retirement
Research Foundation to develop post-conference products and from the Agency for Healthcare
Quality and Research to provide technical assistance. The ultimate result was the
dissemination and uptake of a monograph (26), two coordinated and well-attended series
of online webinars, as well as presentations and action briefs. HAN also contributed
to the training of practitioners through presentations to the National Association
of Chronic Disease Directors and National Association of State Units on Aging – Healthy
We Affect Practice and Policy
At the national level, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services published recommendations
from a HAN investigator-led review of community-based depression interventions on
The Community Guide (28–32). This was the first time the Task Force accepted the findings
of an “external” review. At the state level, HAN worked with the Washington State
Unit on Aging to apply the recommendations to the agency’s depression screening policy
to utilize a validated depression screening measure in annual assessments of clients
who receive services. As a result, the Area Agencies on Aging in Washington have a
better understanding of what proportion of their clients are depressed. In addition,
practitioners can use this screening measure to determine client eligibility for PEARLS,
an evidence-based program for depression. Consequently, evidence-based procedures
and programs are now integrated into this state’s existing aging and social services.
In summary, HAN is the go-to source for technical assistance in large-scale EBHP program
and policy design, implementation, and evaluation efforts with regional, national,
and academic partners. HAN has harnessed the power and cost-effectiveness of multi-disciplinary,
multi-site endeavors and become a recognized leader, able to convene disparate groups
of stakeholders to build the science for EBHP. HAN investigators will continue to
serve as facilitators and bridge builders to expand the overall public health and
aging network within and outside of academia. Going forward, HAN investigators will
continue to conduct EBHP research to improve capacity building, determine optimal
methods for facilitating systems change in health promotion for older adults, and
investigate the effectiveness of EBHP programs.
Conflict of Interest Statement
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial
or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
This paper is included in the Research Topic, “Evidence-Based Programming for Older
Adults.” This Research Topic received partial funding from multiple government and
private organizations/agencies; however, the views, findings, and conclusions in these
articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position
of these organizations/agencies. All papers published in the Research Topic received
peer review from members of the Frontiers in Public Health (Public Health Education
and Promotion section) panel of Review Editors. Because this Research Topic represents
work closely associated with a nationwide evidence-based movement in the US, many
of the authors and/or Review Editors may have worked together previously in some fashion.
Review Editors were purposively selected based on their expertise with evaluation
and/or evidence-based programming for older adults. Review Editors were independent
of named authors on any given article published in this volume.