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Extending Life, Enhancing Life: A National Research Agenda on Aging
and outcome), effects of different strategies on financing long-term care, and the relation between age productivity and retirement, among others.
Field Intervention Studies
Large-scale behavioral field trials are needed to test hypotheses and evaluate recommendations for interventions based on the findings from the studies described above. These need to be systematic and of sufficient duration to observe long-term consequences and should include strategies to maintain and improve such health and cognitive functions as memory, new learning, and adaptations, as well as designs for home and workplace that would allow older people to maintain and prolong productivity and independent living.
Although large-scale longitudinal research projects are necessary to implement the research agenda, the importance of small-sample studies to enhance in-depth understanding about the processes of aging must not be ignored. These studies are less costly to implement, often provide information on a relatively short-term basis, and can, for example, gather data on individual performance that are “averaged out” in larger studies.
Significant additional resources will be necessary to undertake the needed behavioral and social science research agenda in aging in the major priority areas. The funds to acquire these resources are described in detail in the Executive Summary and Recommendations for Funding. Despite large growth in the federal commitment to health research in the past decades, the social and behavioral sciences actually have lost ground relative to other areas of research—a trend that must be stopped if the potential of this research agenda is to be realized.
Supports for behavioral and social research on aging in 1989 were estimated at $80–$100 million from the federal government and $10 – $15 million from nonfederal sources such as foundations (Behavioral and Social Research Program, NIA). Based on the calculation of the dollars committed to behavioral and social research on aging, an estimate of the capacity for high-quality research, and the additional monies necessary to develop the new initiatives identified here, the total budget for age-related behavioral and social research should be increased by more than 100 percent over current expenditures, with the additional funds to be phased in over a 5-year period. The