Published: 07-06-2023 12:04 | Updated: 20-06-2023 10:38

Funding from Forte for research on health and well-being of older people

Photo of woman blowing confetti.
Photo: iStock

Forte is allocating SEK 160 million to research on the health and well-being of older people. The funds are divided into three programme grants and 19 project grants and the research will begin in 2023 and continue until 2029. Two researchers at the Aging Research Center (ARC), Karolinska Institutet, have been granted funding for their important research within the ageing research area.

Portrait of Lena Dahlberg
Lena Dahlberg. Photo: Helmer McKee

Programme grant

One of the three granted research programmes deals with ageing, loneliness and mental health, and is led by Lena Dahlberg, Senior Researcher at ARC, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society and Professor at the School of Health and Welfare at Dalarna University. She receives 23,819,000 SEK for the Research programme on Ageing, Loneliness, and Mental health: understanding the connections and enabling change (REALM).

This programme focuses on loneliness in older adults, how loneliness is understood and experienced, and its relationship with mental health. The work packages will address research gaps to support evidence-based approaches to identify, assess and address to loneliness in practice by:

  • examining inequalities in risk factors and consequences of loneliness, and causal associations between loneliness, mental health and care
  • exploring subjective experiences of loneliness and mental health from a life-course perspective
  • developing an instrument to assess loneliness in practice
  • creating a loneliness literacy training programme for care professionals, and
  • enhancing care professionals’ response to loneliness

The study is a collaboration between researchers at ARC and Dalarna University. They have many years of experience in research on older people's living conditions, including issues such as loneliness, mental illness, health inequalities, health literacy and elderly care. Involved researchers are Carin Lennartsson, Stefan Fors, Josefin Wångdahl, Neda Agahi, Janne Agerholm, Serhiy Dekhtyar, Johan Rehnberg, Jonas Wastesson, all at ARC, and Kevin McKee, Dalarna University.

A reference group with representatives from various public and non-profit organizations is attached to the project. In addition, there is a reference group of international researchers.

"We look forward to deepening and further developing research on loneliness in the coming years," says Lena Dahlberg.

Portrait of Serhiy Dekhtyar.
Serhiy Dekhtyar. Photo: Maria Yohuang.

Project grant

Serhiy Dekhtyar, Associate Professor and Principal Researcher at ARC, receives SEK 4,996,000 for his project entitled Old age depression: improving prevention and care by taking into account transitions across the spectrum of depressive symptoms

Compared to earlier in life, old-age depression is characterized by distinct symptom patterns and a more complex clinical course, triggering intricate care needs and increased healthcare use among older adults. The drivers of these complexities remain poorly understood, and the aim is to conduct three interconnected sub-projects scrutinizing them.

"Specifically, we will investigate the role of psychosocial, behavioural, and socioeconomic determinants of diverse depressive symptom patterns and transitions between them, assess health and survival consequences of different depressive symptom patterns. Moreover we will evaluate healthcare utilization in people with old-age depression, focusing on complex and avoidable transitions across care settings", says Serhiy Dekhtyar.

Longitudinal data on more than 7,000 older adults from four population-based cohorts included in the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care (SNAC) and harmonized via the National E-Infrastructure for Aging Research (NEAR) will be used.

Other persons involved in the project are Linnea Sjöberg, Debora Rizzuto, Davide Liborio Vetrano, Ingrid Ekström and Marc Guitart-Masip, all at ARC, as well as Yvonne Forsell, Department of Global Public Health at Karolinska Institutet and Stéphanie Paillard Borg, Red Cross University.