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Demographic change is a global challenge for healthcare in the twenty-first century. In Germany, this change is already at an advanced stage and leads to special demands on the healthcare system and thus also on health services research. At the same time, there is an ongoing trend towards urbanisation. An urban setting creates further problems due to the diversification of the population, the high population density and the more fragmented care system.

The aim of this project, which was carried out by Prof. Dr. Wolfram Herrmann from the Institute of General Practice and Family Medicine together with Dr. Philip Oeser and Nora Bruckmann, and funded by a QUEST Grant for Patient & Stakeholder Engagement, was the participatory development of a research programme for healthy ageing in a metropolitan setting. To this end, older citizens from Berlin and local stakeholders (e.g., caregivers, social workers) were actively involved in two stages (Fig. 1):

1. Via random sampling, a total of 1,000 people over the age of 65 from five different Berlin districts were contacted by letter. In an open question, they were asked on which topics on healthy ageing in the city of the future research should be conducted.

2. Workshops were organised in the participating districts, in which the results of the survey were presented and discussed together with older residents. Due to the pandemic situation, some face-to-face meetings were replaced by telephone interviews or online meetings.

The project was particularly sensitive to encouraging people from districts with a lower socio-economic status to participate: These people are less often included in participatory processes, even though they are especially vulnerable with respect to health status or medical care.

The researchers received answers from 10.5% of the contacted people. They qualitatively and quantitatively analysed the answers and clustered them (Fig. 2). The topics “health” and “social issues” were addressed most frequently, with almost 100 mentions each. They were followed by “living environment” (77 mentions), “others” (69), “mobility” (63) and “prevention” (44).

The research process and the project results were summarised in a brochure (in German), which was made available to all participants. Among others, the results were presented at the 3rd Charité Health Services Research Congress (Charité-Versorgungsforschungskongress) in February 2022. Further publications are planned and the results will be used to develop research projects that are highly relevant for older citizens in urban areas.


Prof. Dr. Wolfram Herrmann

Institute of General Practice and Family Medicine, Working Group Urban Primary Care

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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