Institute for Health & Ageing

Promoting positive ageing and an age friendly society

IHA academic exchange with Ghent University

Ester Cerin

IHA’s Professor Ester Cerin has been awarded a travel grant from Ghent University (Belgium) to undertake collaborative research with researchers from the institution’s Department of Health.  Ester will work with the team led by Professor Benedicte Deforche on research relating to the role of the physical environment in shaping residents’ physical activity, through a multi-country and life-course perspective.  Ghent University will be hosting Ester, and also IHA’s Dr Anthony Barnett, throughout May 2016.  The broader scope of the visit will be to consolidate a long-standing collaboration (since 2005) and promote future inter-institutional exchange between Ghent and the Institute for Health and Ageing at ACU.

During the visit, Ester and Anthony will use data from the IPEN (International Physical Activity and the Environment Network) – Adult study to write a manuscript with the research team from Ghent. They also plan to: discuss and formulate research questions relating to the ongoing IPEN study on adolescents; perform statistical analyses and write a manuscript on environmental correlates of older adults’ physical activity using IPEN data collected in Belgium and Hong Kong; and commence preparation of a multi-country proposal on older adults to be submitted to the NIH (USA) in November 2016 in collaboration with colleagues from the University of California, San Diego and Stanford University.

Jelle Van Cauwenberg, a postdoctoral fellow of the Department of Public Health of Ghent University, has also been awarded a travel grant from Ghent University to visit IHA from June till September 2016.

Jelle will work with Professor Ester Cerin and her team on a manuscript focusing on the relationships between objectively-measured environmental variables (using Geographic Information Systems, GIS) and older adults’ physical activity in different geographic scales (500 vs. 1000m network buffers). Additionally, the team’s joint research will examine whether these relationships are moderated by physical functionality using IPEN-data collected in Hong Kong and Belgium.  Also planned is the development of a further study based on the methodology developed through Jelle’s postdoctoral project, identifying environmental determinants of physical activity participation in older adults, wherein the team will explore how the procedures and materials can be translated to the Hong Kong and Australian contexts.   Finally, the collaboration will produce a manuscript examining the mediating roles of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the relationships of neighbourhood walkability and recreation environments with adults’ weight status, utilising data from the 12-country IPEN adult study.

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