Including older people in health and social care research: best practice recommendations based on the INCLUDE framework.


BACKGROUND: Older people are often explicitly or implicitly excluded from research, in particular clinical trials. This means that study findings may not be applicable to them, or that older people may not be offered treatments due to an absence of evidence. AIMS: The aim of this work was to develop recommendations to guide all research relevant to older people. METHODS: A diverse stakeholder group identified barriers and solutions to including older people in research. In parallel, a rapid literature review of published papers was undertaken to identify existing papers on the inclusion of older people in research. The findings were synthesised and mapped onto a socio-ecological model. From the synthesis we identified themes that were developed into initial recommendations that were iteratively refined with the stakeholder group. RESULTS: A range of individual, interpersonal, organisational, community and policy factors impact on the inclusion of older people in research. A total of 14 recommendations were developed such as removing upper age limits and comorbidity exclusions, involving older people, advocates and health and social care professionals with expertise in ageing in designing the research, and considering flexible or alternative approaches to data collection to maximise opportunities for participation. We also developed four questions that may guide those developing, reviewing and funding research that is inclusive of older people. CONCLUSION: Our recommendations provide up to date, practical advice on ways to improve the inclusion of older people in health and care research.