Policy and Research Initiatives

Center for Interdisciplinary Geriatric Health Care Research

Community Catalyst Lift Up Your Voice! Evaluation

Demography of Aging in Massachusetts

The Elder Economic Security Standard: Measuring Elders Costs of Living

Healthy Aging

Increasing Consumer Involvement in Medicaid Nursing Home Reimbursement

Intergenerational Support Structures and Pathways

Latino End-of-Life Care: Patient, Provider, & Institutional Effects

Marriage, Families, and Retirement

National Pension Lawyers Network

New England Pension Assistance Project

The Older Population in Massachusetts

Older Worker Initiative in Massachusetts

Determinants and Consequences of Veterans’ Access to Nursing Home Care

Using Video-Enhanced, Internet-Based Vignette Experiments to Study Patient Decisions Regarding Knee Replacement for Ostoarthritis


Center for Interdisciplinary Geriatric Health Care Research

This project is designed to strengthen and support interdisciplinary health care research and training, and promote collaboration between Geriatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus.

Principal Investigators: Jan Mutchler Co-investigator with J. Gurwitz, Geriatric Medicine, and K. Miller, Graduate School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester

Sponsor: Hartford/RAND Foundation

Funding: $200,000

Project Timeline: November 2006 - September 2008


Community Catalyst Lift Up Your Voice! Evaluation

The Lift Up Your Voice! (LUYV) training, a component of Community Catalyst’s effort to support the Campaign for Better Care (CBC), is designed to mobilize grassroots advocacy structures of vulnerable older adults by directly engaging and empowering older adults and their caregivers. The goal of the evaluation is to assess the effectiveness LUYV in recruiting potential advocates, educating them about the health care reform, empowering them via advocacy skills training, and engaging them in state-based CBC activities.

Principal Investigators: Nina Silverstein and Alison Gottlieb

Sponsor: Community Catalyst and Atlantic Philanthropies

Funding: $73,505

Project Timeline: May 1, 2011 - April 30, 2012

Report Related to the Project


The Elder Economic Security Standard: Measuring Elders Costs of Living

The Elder Economic Security Standard Initiative is a collaborative project with Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) to measure on a geographically specific basis the income elders need to live modestly in their communities throughout the United States. The goal of the Elder Economic Security Initiative is to enable policy makers, aging advocates and others develop policies and programs to help seniors age with dignity while promoting their economic independence.

Principal Investigators: Ellen Bruce and Jan Mutchler

Project Director: Alison Gottlieb

Sponsor: Wider Opportunities for Women, Atlantic Philanthropies, and Retirement Research Foundation

Funding: possibly up to $1 million over 5 years

Previous sponsors: The Boston Foundation, Farnsworth Foundation, Retirement Research Foundation, and a public service grant from UMass Boston.

Reports Related to the Project


Healthy Aging

The Tufts Health Plan Foundation (THPF) has awarded a grant to a team of researchers at the Gerontology Institute being led by Beth Dugan to conduct a project on healthy aging.

The aim of the project is threefold:

  1. to report indicators of healthy aging across Massachusetts,
  2. to conduct an environmental scan of current healthy aging programs in the state,
  3. to provide leadership to a healthy aging coalition in Massachusetts.

The researchers are developing the methodology for reporting on key indicators of healthy aging in the Commonwealth. Preliminary research involves establishing feasibility, acquiring data, and querying key stakeholders on what information is most needed to advance healthy aging in the state

Principal Investigator: Beth Dugan

Sponsor: Tufts Health Plan Foundation

Project Timeline: September 12, 2013 - November 30, 2013


Increasing Consumer Involvement in Medicaid Nursing Home Reimbursement

This project aims to encourage state policymakers to seek informed consumer input when developing and modifying nursing home reimbursement methods and to give consumer representatives necessary information in order that they may make a meaningfully contribution. First, the team will study New York and Minnesota, describing in two case studies the positive impact knowledgeable consumer involvement has had in the development and modification of those state’s nursing home reimbursement systems. Second, based on the numerous questions they have received from consumer representatives for information on nursing home payment policy, a literature review, and insights gained from the case studies, they will develop and present a half-day seminar and a series of web-modules to educate consumer representatives on the principles of nursing home reimbursement and its relationship to quality, access, costs and other outcomes.

Principal Investigator: Edward Alan Miller

Sponsor: The Commonwealth Fund

Award: $49,995

Project Timeline: November 1, 2010 - October 31, 2011

Intergenerational Support Structures and Pathways

The project is designed to assess changes in family care systems over time, to examine the predictors of such changes both at the level of the caregiver and of the care system as a whole, and to investigate the impact of such changes on selected outcomes, including well-being of the caregivers and care recipients, the extent of unmet care needs, the use of formal services, and nursing home placement. Using data from the Health and Retirement and Assets and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old surveys, our results can inform policies and programs designed to enhance the care systems of frail and cognitively impaired elders as well as policies and programs targeting the well-being of families and caregivers. Our analysis will also speak to the future availability of family caregivers in response to changing family structures and caregiving requirements.

Principal Investigator: Maximiliane E. Szinovacz

Sponsor: National Institute of Aging (NIA)


Latino End-of-Life Care: Patient, Provider, & Institutional Effects

The goal of this project is to estimate patient-, provider-, and institution-level effects on Latino-white disparities in end-of-life care and treatment goal attainment.

Principal Investigator(s): Jan E. Mutchler, Holly G. Prigerson (DF/HCC), and Paul K. Maciejewski (DF/HCC).

Sponsor: National Cancer Institute, through the University of Massachusetts Boston & Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center U54 Comprehensive Partnership to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities

Funding: $138,656 direct

Project Timeline: September 1, 2010 - August 31, 2013


Marriage, Families, and Retirement

This project has three main objectives:

  • to identify the entire retirement processes of individuals and couples, defined by labor force exits and reentries, Social Security and pension receipt, and retiree self definitions.
  • to assess the effects of choice (disability, job displacement, caregiving, spouse control), instrumental, and cognitive utilities (reflecting social, couple, family and personal expectations about the timing of the retirement transition) on retirement transition processes.
  • to assess the outcomes (retirement plan implementation, benefit optimization, retirement satisfaction, change in income, food security, depressive symptoms, health risk behaviors, self-rated health, health insurance coverage, and life expectations) of specific retirement transition processes for individuals and couples.

The analyses will rely on secondary analyses of the Health and Retirement Survey (waves 1992-2004). Main analyses techniques employed will include multi state life tables, regression techniques for censored data and interdependent observations (couples), structural equation modeling, and general estimation procedures. The project has important health-related outcomes. It will demonstrate to what extent health limitations preclude choice over retirement transitions and whether such limited choice significantly reduces retirement benefits as well as emotional and physical well-being and access to health insurance. The project will further assess whether negative outcomes of initial retirement transitions can be reduced through subsequent processes such as reentry into the labor force. In addition to its importance for health-related outcomes, the project also provides theoretical and methodological contributions to the retirement literature. Major innovations include the identification of retirement processes, the emphasis on control and cognitive utility, the measurement of post-retirement financial well-being in terms of the difference between actual and optimal benefits, and the assessment of cross-spouse influences and outcomes.

Principal investigator: Maximiliane E. Szinovacz

Sponsor: National Institute of Aging (NIA)


National Pension Lawyers Network

NPLN is an ongoing referral service for people with pension problems throughout the country who are looking for attorneys to represent them.

Project Directors: Ellen A. Bruce and Jeanne Medeiros

Sponsor: Contract with the Pension Rights Center

Funding: $20,000

Project timeline: ongoing


New England Pension Assistance Project

NEPAP is an ongoing service project that assists and educates individuals about their benefits and rights to retirement income. A secondary purpose is to identify issues affecting pension plan participants. The project has served over 5500 people in New England and recovered over $38 million in its 17 years of operation.

Principal Investigator: Ellen A. Bruce

Managing Attorney: Jeanne Medeiros

Sponsors (and awards) U.S. Administration on Aging ($200,000); private donation

Program Timeline: ongoing



The Older Population in Massachusetts (electronic) 

This series of fact sheets presents demographic information about the older population in the state, focusing on economic security, family and household characteristics, and other compositional features. See the Demographics of Elders in Massachusetts web site.

Principal Investigator: Jan Mutchler


Older Worker Initiative in Massachusetts

The Gerontology Institute, in collaboration with AARP and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, convened a group of academics, public and private agencies, and employers to examine ways of increasing workforce development among workers over age 50 to maintain Massachusetts’ economic competitiveness.

Project Directors: Ellen A. Bruce and Frank Caro

Project timeline: 2007 - 2011


Determinants and Consequences of Veterans’ Access to Nursing Home Care

The purpose of this study is to identify factors associated with the use of different types of nursing home care by veterans and the outcomes associated therewith. Specific goals include examining factors related to: (i) veterans' initial nursing home placement setting type, given their available choices: (ii) transfers among different nursing home settings both directly from one setting to another, and indirectly through a hospitalization following initial admission to nursing home; and (iii) newly admitted veterans remaining in  nursing home settings for extended care. Goals also include: comparing initial type of nursing home utilization, transitions, and extended-care nursing home utilization among mandatory and non-mandatory veterans, paying particularly attention to demographic, geographic, and case-mix differences across veteran affairs medical centers.

Principal Investigators: Orna Intrator, PI, Providence VA and Edward A. Miller, co-PI

Sponsor: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service

Award: $868,783 (total), $116,644 (UMass Boston subcontract)

Project Timeline: June 1, 2010 - May 30, 2013

Using Video-Enhanced, Internet-Based Vignette Experiments to Study Patient Decisions Regarding Knee Replacement for Ostoarthritis

This project will examine how patients make difficult decisions about surgical treatment for knee osteoarthritis, a serious chronic condition affecting many middle aged and older people. We will be concerned specifically with the effects of 1) level of pain, 2) opportunity costs associated with treatment, 3) physician recommendations, 4) supplementary outcome projections, and 5) testimonials of other patients on patient decisions. The project builds upon pilot research that used fractional factorial survey design, a form of stated choice methods, to demonstrate the potential for using a general population sample to examine patient decision-making processes. The pilot research also demonstrated the feasibility and potential advantages of our innovative method of delivering information to respondents through video and audio techniques in a survey administered on the internet. The respondents (~ 1,500 middle aged and older adult members of the Rand Corporation’s American Life Panel) will be asked to make recommendations for vignette persons who describe their complex circumstances. The results will be useful for health care providers who assist patients in making informed decisions about treatment for knee osteoarthritis. The research will also provide insights about the potential use of our methods to evaluate the effects of decision guides on patient decisions.

Principal Investigators: Francis G. Caro (Co-PIs: Joachim Winter; Arie Kapteyn; Maria E. Suarez-Almazor; Alison Gottlieb)

Sponsor: Informed Medical Decisions Foundation

Award: $99,988.35

Project Timeline: Oct 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012

Gerontology Institute

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University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125 USA

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