The changing demographics in the United States demand we broaden our approach. Due in part to medical and public health efforts, average life expectancy has significantly increased; as a result, the mid-life and older adult population is growing at an unprecedented rate, as well as becoming increasingly diverse. Prevention scientists have developed a strong set of tools and preventive intervention technologies for understanding risk and protective factors through early adulthood. These tools and interventions, however, are unlikely to be sufficient to benefit people throughout the life course. Additionally, expanding the field into adulthood presents opportunities for developmental theory building. The unique transitions and turning points in adulthood can serve as optimal intervention points (e.g., health changes; bereavement; retirement; grandparenthood). While there is some basic and applied prevention research in adulthood, little of this work is featured at SPR.
As a field, we have much room to grow. Extramural funding agencies like NIH and NIA have also observed the urgent need for the design of prevention strategies and interventions that are most effective for preventive health in adulthood. As such, prevention scientists have the opportunity to make a large contribution to this timely and significant field of study.
The chair of the roundtable will begin with a 5-minute overview of the state of the science of prevention research beyond early adulthood and introduce key issues and opportunities for considering lifespan prevention science, followed by 5-minute introductions by each panelist, including the unique perspective they offer to this discussion. Each panelist will respond to three prompts: (1) How is prevention science being applied to adulthood, midlife or late adulthood?; (2) What do you see as the key opportunities and/or challenges to integrating this perspective at SPR?; (3) What steps would you recommend for highlighting this emerging area of study for SPR? The remaining hour will be used for active dialogue with the audience regarding how to optimize prevention research across the life course.