Special Issue Call for Abstracts: Age-Friendly Health Systems

Special Issue: Age-Friendly Health Systems 

Sponsored by: The John A. Hartford Foundation 

Submission deadline for abstracts:November 22, 2021 Extended to November 30!

Health Services Research (HSR) and The John A. Hartford Foundation are partnering to publish a Special Issue on Age-Friendly Health Systems. The special issue will be edited by Albert Siu, MD, MSPH, and guest editor Donna Fick, PhD, RN.

One key challenge facing health systems in the United States and around the world is how to best design services to provide care to a growing population of older adults that is heterogenous in health and function. The spectrum for this population will range from healthy and fit persons to others with serious illness and disability including a small number with high healthcare needs and who incur high costs. Across this spectrum, many of these individuals will be among the most vulnerable to the effects of inequality, climate change and emerging infectious diseases, as we have recently witnessed. Our healthcare systems are not always designed to address these vulnerabilities. As such, they are at increased risk for complications including delirium, medication-related adverse events, falls and complications associated with reduced mobility.   

To address these issues, The John A. Hartford Foundation, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, American Hospital Association, and the Catholic Health Association have collaborated on an initiative to improve the safety and effectiveness of care for older adults. The Age-Friendly Health Systems (AFHS) movement builds on existing evidence-based models of geriatric care and integrates with a wider ecosystem of age-friendly public health, public policy, cities, and states. The goal of the AFHS initiative is to aim for all care with older adults to be age-friendly care: guided by an essential set of evidence-based practices (the 4Ms, for What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility) that is equitably applied, minimizes harms, and is consistent with What Matters to the older adult and their family. 

This 4M framework is intended to improve the experience of care for older adults, reduce health care-related harms, improve satisfaction with care, reduce costs, address health disparities, gaps, and inequities in care, and optimize value for patients, families, caregivers, healthcare providers, payers and health systems. The AFHS initiative engendered the 4Ms framework to achieve these goals. This framework for implementing age-friendly care focuses on knowing and acting on What Matters most to the older person, as well as addressing key care concepts related to Medication, Mentation and Mobility. 

Therefore, the goal of this Special Issue is to highlight cutting-edge work that showcases the potential to learn from those involved in understanding, designing, implementing and studying age-friendly programs and policies. A portion of the Special Issue will feature the work of health systems from AFHS Action Communities, a 7-month-long structured learning collaborative that supports implementation, developed and organized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and led in partnership with other organizations including the American Hospital Association, American Geriatrics Society, New York Hospital Association, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and the Nebraska Hospital Association. The Special Issue will also feature efforts of health system leaders from the American Hospital Association’s Next Generation Leaders Fellowship that are focused on AFHS implementation. The rest of the Special Issue will consist of invited submissions that examine areas related to age-friendly healthcare as well as age-friendly public health, communities, and policies. 

We are interested in work that spans the full range of care settings from the public health sector to an age-friendly ecosystem. Illustrative examples of topics within the area include but are not limited to: 

  1. Outline of the strengths and weaknesses of different measures, outcomes, and methodological approaches to assessing and intervening in age-friendly care 

  1. The examination of the key patient characteristics of populations needing or receiving age-friendly care 

  1. Examination of how the age-friendly care framework approaches health disparities and addresses the gaps, inequities, and social determinants of and in health care for older adults 

  1. Exploration of the health economics benefits and/or cost comparison of age-friendly care 

  1. Detailed exploration of differences in key patient outcomes for specific patient populations including but not limited to serious illness, end of life, dementia, behavioral health, and multiple comorbidity 

  1. The use of telemedicine, the electronic health record, and other technology in improving the delivery of age-friendly care and the health of older adults 

  1. An examination of a community/public health and health system partnership for age-friendly care 

  1. The role and use of age-friendly care in emergency and disaster preparedness 

  1. Age-friendly care and staff and health system outcomes 

  1. Innovative approaches to intervening in the 4Ms model such as approaches to deprescribing, mobility models, delirium care, or asking, documenting and acting on what matters 

  1. Age-friendly leadership development and contributions to implementation science 

  1. Data that illustrates the voice of the older adult and their care partners in age-friendly care 

We strongly encourage cutting-edge research that opens new frontiers in the study of age-friendly care and that delineates key questions that can be addressed in future investigation. Papers that offer a perspective from more than one hospital or health system will be prioritized. Though we will consider work focused on populations and programs outside the United States, we encourage authors to discuss lessons drawn from it for the United States. Papers that are opinion pieces or reviews will not be considered. While the issue may include a framework/review paper and/or a summary/commentary, these will be solicited separately. 

The deadline for initial submission of abstracts is November 22, 2021. Abstracts may not exceed 300 words and must otherwise be formatted as indicated in the HSR Instructions for Authors. Abstracts will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary, interprofessional review panel that will determine which abstracts are invited to submit full manuscripts. Evaluation criteria will include: (1) quality, rigor and originality; (2) relevance to the special issue theme, articulated above; and (3) clarity of writing and presentation.  

Invited manuscripts submitted for the Special Issue will undergo the same HSR peer review process as regular manuscripts. However, due to the timeline for publishing the issue, HSR the overall process may be shorter. Authors are expected to be especially prompt in returning revisions. Accepted articles will be published online ahead of the print edition. Accepted manuscripts that are not selected for the Special Issue will be automatically scheduled for print publication in a regular issue.  

The print publication date for the Special Issue will be February 2023.  

If you would like to submit your abstract for consideration, please email your abstract and corresponding author contact information to the editorial office at hsr@aha.org. Include “Special Issue Age-Friendly Health Systems” in the subject line.  

Key dates for authors 

  • November 30, 2021: Submission deadline for abstracts  
  • January 3, 2022: Notification of manuscript invitation  
  • February 28, 2022: Submission deadline of invited manuscripts  
  • December 15, 2022: Final notification of accepted manuscripts  
  • February 2023: Print publication date  

For questions, please email Carolyn deCourt at hsr@aha.org.