The aim of the program for Social and Behavioral Sciences is to conduct interdisciplinary and multi-method research in order to understand how sociocultural, behavioral, and psychological factors influence: a) the aging process; b) access to, use, and quality of health care services; and c) patient, family, and organizational level outcomes. Our objectives are to:

  • Conduct research on caregiving and health and to develop effective interventions and policies to ameliorate social disparities, thereby improving healthy aging and quality of life across the lifespan.
  • Provide training and mentorship to students and faculty to encourage them to investigate the sociocultural, behavioral, and psychological dimensions of health and aging. This involves lending expertise in social science methodologies to the field of medicine.
  • Interface with the surrounding community members and organizations to establish effective community outreach.

We strive to conduct all of the above activities in collaboration and consultation with the other Buehler Center projects and with other social scientists from the fields of psychology, demography, sociology, and health services research.

EPEC-Long Term Care

Lead researcher Celia Berdes, PhD, MSPH, received a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation to develop The Education in Palliative and End-of-life Care for Long-term Care (EPEC-LTC) curriculum. Dr. Berdes, reported on the first pilot conference of the EPEC-Long-term Care Curriculum at the 2008 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. An interactive distance learning version of EPEC-Long-term Care based on this work is available.

In September 2008, Celia Berdes, PhD, MSPH, along with Presbyterian Homes colleagues Jane H. Grad, MBA (vice president of information management) and Mary Ann Anichini, MSN, GNP (director of Operation Excellence), completed their project to develop a person-centered care module within Caretracker™, a proprietary software that documents the care work of nurses aides in nursing homes. The project was supported by a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health’s "Innovations in Long-term Care Quality Grants Program”.

Age Friendly Chicago Logo

Age-Friendly Chicago

Chicago is home to 2.8 million residents, with roughly 10% of that population aged 65 or over. US census estimates suggest the number of people over 65 in Illinois will increase 18% by the year 2030. These figures highlight the need to create livable communities which sustain the health and wellbeing of older adults. In 2012 the Mayoral office applied for and received the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly City designation for a five year cycle of assessment, implementations and review and membership of the global cities network.

Researchers at the Buehler Center partnered with The City of Chicago’s Department for Family Support and Services to deliver a baseline assessment of the city’s age-friendliness. The assessment was conducted using the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly Cities Model and associated guidelines.

In August 2013, research leaders Rebecca Johnson, PhD, MSc, Amy Eisenstein, PhD, MSc and June McKoy MD, MPH, JD, MBA completed Phase 1 of this assessment. This initial project was supported by a grant from the City of Chicago’s Department for Family and Support Services, who partnered with the project team to facilitate focus groups with older adults in Chicago’s eight regional senior centers.

In October 2014, The Chicago Community Trust awarded funding for Phase 2 of the Age-Friendly baseline assessment. Thanks to this generous award from The Trust, this phase included an environmental scan of global age-friendly indicators, interviews with 40 key stakeholders from across Chicago’s public and private sectors, and a community-wide survey in which 2,601 older adults rated the age-friendliness of the city of Chicago.

A further award from the Washington Square Health Foundation is supporting the project team in research to access the views and record the needs of informal caregivers for older adults aging in the community (forthcoming June 2015).

These project findings are useful to researchers, service providers, City of Chicago departments, and sister agencies, assuring that “age-friendly” indicators can be incorporated across policies and practices to help sustain Chicago as an age-friendly city.

For more information on the project, or to discuss findings, please e-mail Dr. Johnson. You may also click here to view a poster summary of the project’s method, photovoice completed in partnership with older adults at the Chinese American Service League and sample infographic for one of the many community groups who were instrumental in disseminating and championing the recent survey.

To request a copy of the Age-Friendly project newsletter please e-mail Lara Boyken.