Considerations in the development of age-sensitive indicators for assessing health promotion

Marcia G. Ory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article addresses several critical age-related issues in the development and measurement of indicators for health assessment and the evaluation of health promotion activities. Attention to several basic issues in research and health programmes is important in the adoption of health promotion interventions for people in their middle and later years. Although strategies aimed at individuals predominate, social and community interventions must be developed and evaluated. The evaluation of these types of intervention requires special attention on the development of appropriate indicators to specify the nature of the interventions and the expected results. Realistic expectations are needed for changing (or maintaining) the health and health behaviour of older people at different levels of functioning. Such expectations will help counter the stereotype of older people as unable or unwilling to benefit from health promotion. Similarly, age-related Characteristics cannot be ignored, especially in the oldest old, who are more likely to be frail and disabled. As appropriate, health interventions should be targeted to meet the health and functional needs of people of different ages. Gender, class or ethnic variations should also be considered in the development and evaluation of health promotion programmes.This article highlights several pitfalls in the measurement of health indicators for older people. Additional research is needed to construct indicators and implement strategies that will eliminate any systematic age bias that can affect the measurement and interpretation of evaluation results. Recognition of the similarities and differences between younger and older people and among elderly people themselves will help guide the development of appropriate indicators. Research is needed to test the applicability of measures established for other age groups to the older population as a whole and to particular groups within it. Especially crucial is the development of a practical, reliable and valid measure of functional status; it must be sensitive to changes over time and able to detect any differences attributable to health interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-150
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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