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Dates: 2016-2019
Funding: 'Society and Ethics Research Fellowship', Wellcome Trust

Population ageing is likely to result in an increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer or type 2 diabetes for which age is a major risk factor. However, many of these diseases can be prevented; for example, according to the World Health Organization, at least one third of all cancer cases are preventable. In addition, early detection (e.g. through screening) can reduce the risk of later complications and mortality. Therefore, prevention and early detection play a major role in maintaining the health of an ageing population.

However, uptake of healthy behaviours and early-detection programmes by older adults is often below desired levels. For example, more than two-thirds of older adults in the US fail to meet government guidelines for physical activity. Similarly, uptake of bowel cancer screening in England between 2012 and 2015 was just 58% with large regional variation.

This project aims to investigate the social and economic factors that affect uptake of healthy behaviour and screening programmes among individuals aged 50 and above. As part of this project, we will develop a new health economic model which will be used to derive hypotheses on the relationship between uptake of prevention and socioeconomic factors such as employment status. In the second part of the project, we will use econometric methods that allow the identification of causal relationships to test these hypotheses on international datasets, including for instance the English Longitudinal Study of Aging.

Our team