(Photo credit: Fechi Fajardo, Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Building on a survey which revealed important effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on older New Yorkers, ICAP at Columbia University will conduct a second round of interviews among the participants to learn more about the impact of this crisis on their ongoing health and wellbeing.

The SARS-CoV-2 Impact on Lives and Views of Elderly Residents study (SILVER study), conducted by ICAP in 2021, aimed to understand physical, emotional, and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults living at home. In the landline phone survey of nearly 700 individuals over the age of 70 in New York City, 18% reported depression and 17% reported anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost one-third of older New Yorkers reported financial challenges and almost one in ten reported not having enough to eat.

With new funding from the New York Community Trust, the SILVER study will conduct a second round of data collection that expands the topic areas addressed and aims to increase diversity of participants. The follow-up study will correspond with first-round SILVER study participants to gather updated information and will enroll more Asian participants in the study, given their underrepresentation in the first round of the survey.

“Following up with SILVER participants will allow us to understand how behaviors and experiences have changed or stayed the same over the past year,” said Abigail Greenleaf, MPH, PhD, who leads the SILVER research team at ICAP. “We are excited to recruit new SILVER cohort participants – specifically Asian New Yorkers – so that our sample better represents the diversity of New York City.”

The first SILVER study, which was supported by New York Community Trust, Samuels Foundation, and an anonymous donor, identified health inequities by race and ethnicity that programs can use to tailor interventions. For example, Latinx older adults were more likely to report anxiety and depression than individuals from other races and ethnicities. A recent article published in the Journal of Community Health outlines additional outcomes of the first SILVER study, emphasizing that both older adults living in congregate settings and those living at home have experienced wide-ranging effects of COVID-19, demanding tailored interventions.

The second round of the survey will seek further details about participants’ access to telehealth and social determinants of health, including housing, internet, social support, and use of city services. Attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine, booster doses, and the influenza vaccine will also be evaluated. The ultimate goal is to provide policymakers in New York City and other communities with more accurate information on how to best serve and assist older adults during times of crises.

“The cohort of participants will provide valuable data about social determinants of health that public health programs in New York City will use to inform policy as well as to design and implement programs,” said Greenleaf.

About ICAP

A major global health organization that has been improving public health in countries around the world for nearly two decades, ICAP works to transform the health of populations through innovation, science, and global collaboration. Based at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, ICAP has projects in more than 30 countries, working side-by-side with ministries of health and local governmental, non-governmental, academic, and community partners to confront some of the world’s greatest health challenges. Through evidence-informed programs, meaningful research, tailored technical assistance, effective training and education programs, and rigorous surveillance to measure and evaluate the impact of public health interventions, ICAP aims to realize a global vision of healthy people, empowered communities, and thriving societies. Online at www.icap.columbia.edu

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