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Nurses should tailor public health messages for older age groups

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UK researchers suggest that public health messages aimed at older people would be more effective if they were tailored to specific age groups.

Health interventions to increase exercise in older people could be more successful if they differentiated between people aged 65-79 years old and those over 80 years old, according to the study by Dr Mark Moss and colleagues from Northumbria University.

The findings are due to be presented today at the British Psychology Society’s annual conference in Liverpool.

Around 140 participants aged 65-95 completed questionnaires about their current health and wellbeing, vitality, motivation to exercise and barriers to exercise.

“There may have been a tendency to see all those aged over 65 as one homogenous group”

Mark Moss

Age was shown to have the biggest influence on both motivators and barriers to exercise.

Individual factors such as health constraints, a negative mind-set, social constraints and age appropriateness were all contributing factors to the amount of exercise undertaken.

Dr Moss, head of the psychology department at Northumbria University, said: “There may have been a tendency to see all those aged over 65 as one homogenous group when it is clear there are significant differences.

“With our ageing population it’s vital that new health messages aiming to promote exercise to older adults must tailor their information so it takes into account the differences between ‘young’ older adults and ‘older’ older adults,” he said.

“Furthermore, it is essential that we recognise the importance of individual differences in motivators and barriers to exercise so that personalised programmes can be designed,” he said. “One size does not fit all!”

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