, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 226-227
Date: 22 Apr 2014

Harnessing the potential of older adults to measure and modify their environments: long-term successes of the Neighborhood Eating and Activity Advocacy Team (NEAAT) Study

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LETTER

A previously published case study by Buman et al. (2011) in Translational Behavioral Medicine described the Neighborhood Eating and Activity Advocacy Team (NEAAT) Study, in which an ethnically diverse group of older low-income “citizen scientists” received advocacy and skills training to empower them to collaboratively gather, review, prioritize, and disseminate data about features of their neighborhood environment that help or hinder active living and healthy eating [1]. Although active involvement by the NEAAT Study research team ended in 2011, the older adult citizen scientists have continued to use the team-oriented engagement skills they learned during the initial phases of this study to advocate for improvements in their neighborhood and to partner with key allies, including local policy makers.

The sustained information sharing and problem solving has encouraged officials of this ethnically diverse, lower-income city to more coherently focus on creating an age-friendly comm

Implications

Research: Empowering “citizen scientists” through advocacy and skills training to gather, analyze, and disseminate data can overcome previously identified challenges in translating research into practice and policy.
Practice: Using a citizen scientist approach can help build community capacity and facilitate community support and empowerment, which increases intervention relevance and helps to ensure its suitability to the cultural and contextual needs of the community.
Policy: Using a citizen scientist approach and “voice” can result in the allocation of substantial government dollars for neighborhood improvements that can facilitate active living and greater public health inclusion in municipal processes and activities, even in times of local government financial constraint.