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In conclusion I would also like to draw the subcommittee's attention to the problem of excessive concentration of research activity and governmental support in academic centers, particularly universities. Undoubtedly, most qualified investigators will be found in such settings. However, some highly competent researchers can be overlooked because of the obscure setting in which they work, such as small colleges, State Hospitals, and other nonacademic agencies. Some
should be found for accurately surveying these potential resources and putting them to more adequate use. —
-Thomas T. Tourlentes.
We were most interested to learn of the inquiries you are conducting into research in the field of aging. Your very searching questions on governmental research activities pose problems which we in Canada will also have to face before too long.
The extensive research on the aged and aging which has been done in the United States forms an extremely valuable body of source material for us. The findings of your present study and the decisions to which it will contribute are also matters of serious interest. It would, however, be inappropriate for me to express any opinion on what the degree and structure of governmental research activities in the United States should be, or to assess the adequacy on directions of financial investment.
Although I cannot offer the type of comment you are seeking for the report to the Senate subcommittee, I might say that I have no doubt as to the practical value of research findings for the improvement of the situation of the aged; that is, given time, opportunities for experimental studies, and the integration of findings, as well as their assessment in terms of the realities of our economic and social culture. Social research in the field of aging is still, perhaps, in its infancy in methodology, experience and facilities, but experiment has been the basis of our scientific advance in other fields and it would seem shortsighted not to apply it here.
The Canadian Government has been contributing to studies in the fields of geriatrics and gerontology for some 10 years, chiefly under the national health grant program, inaugurated in 1948, through which Federal aid is extended to provincial health services. Most of the research in these fields financed from other Federal funds has been conducted or supported primarily by the Department of Veteran's Affairs; several projects are also being conducted by the National Research Council. You may be interested in the enclosed lists of studies under these programs.
This Department has set up a departmental Committee on Chronic Diseases and on Health Problems of the Aged which is working through a number of subcommittees. It will, however, be some time before the committee is ready to issue a report.
The Nutrition Division of the Department is conducting a study of the food habits of people 70 years of age and over together with biochemical analysis of blood and urine samples. To date a random sample survey of 100 persons in each center has been completed in five provinces.
A recent development in the field of research in social security is the publication of "Economic Security for the Aged in the United States and Canada'' by Dr. Robert M. Clark. Dr. Clark, a professor with the University of British Columbia, was assigned by the Government to inquire into factors relating to old age security systems in Canada and the United States. His two-volume report was submitted to the Minister of National Health and Welfare in 1959 and is now under study.
Early in 1953 an interdepartmental committee comprised of representatives of the Departments of Veterans' Affairs, Labour, National Health and Welfare, and the Unemployment Insurance Commission was set up to investigate the problems of the older worker in employment. Publications done at the suggestion of this committee include “The Aging Worker in the Canadian Economy,' “Age and Performance in Retail Trade, ” and “Pension Plans and the Employment of Older Workers," copies of which are being forwarded to you under separate cover.
Another study in this area is a summary and evaluation of research findings in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada on the employability of the older worker, which was done by Dr. S. D. Clark, professor of sociology with the University of Toronto, for the Department of Labour. A copy of this is enclosed. The Ontario Department of Public Welfare has begun two research projects. The first is the establishment of a geriatrics research center at Lambert Lodge, Toronto, which combines clinical services with research. The second project is a comprehensive 20-year study of 2,000 male volunteers who were 45 years of age in 1959. This study will include economic, social, and health factors and is expected to help in the formulation of future policies in the treatment of older persons. Other studies on a smaller scale have been undertaken at the local level in a number of Provinces.-Joseph W. Willard.
I regret that circumstances and my absence from Ottawa have so delayed this letter. We have a deep interest in the whole field of research in aging, and hope we may have an opportunity of seeing a copy of your report.-Joseph W. Willard.
As you have ifnerred in your series of questions, aging is a relatively new area of interest and concern. While medical-biological studies over the years have often been concerned with the entire life cycle, this has not been true in the field of the social-behavioral sciences. Only during the last 10 years has a variety of problems in the latter category assumed such proportions as to call attention to the need for this type of research. While research activities have increased during this period, the majority of these studies have been short-term and crosssectional in nature.
Because of the complexity and interrelationship of the various social problems of the aged and aging, longer term studies of a longitudinal nature using a multidisciplinary approach are needed. Such research, of course, takes longer both in the planning and the doing and costs more. Hence, expenditures and allocations of funds, whether from public or private sources, should be of a sizable nature and be committed for a considerable period of time. Appropriations and grants procedures, therefore, should be set up to provide continuity in financing. In the case of Government, this may present complications because budgeting is done on an annual basis. I note, however, that the National Institutes of Health have been successful, under existing procedures, in sustaining and expanding their research activities in various disease areas over a period of years.
Another impediment to progress in social science research in aging is the shortage of personnel qualified and willing to work in this field. Apparently incentives are needed to (1) attract experienced social scientists from other fields and, (2) encourage students to train and prepare specifically for the field. A system of training grants for short-term orientation (to aging) training of experienced social scientists and long-term training at the graduate level for those who are qualified to enter the field might be established. Similarly a system of research grants to agencies or to a coordinating body such as the Federal Council on Aging might stimulate research activities in the social science field. A workable model for such training and research grants is incorporated in the 1954 amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act with respect to the physically handicapped and might be considered for adaptation to the field of aging.
Thus, from a subject matter standpoint, at least a starting inventory of research problems is available. I do not know whether it is possible to develop a master plan in this field. Certainly priorities should be established by some coordinating group representing public and private research institutions. Certainly because of the ever-present financial limitations which public and private groups face, the projects need to be phased out; and some consideration should be given to diversion of research funds from what now may be less critical areas of investigation to re search in aging.-Seymour L. Wolfbein.
(a) My knowledge of Government-supported research activity in the area of the nature and causes of aging in living systems is limited to the activity of the National Institutes of Health of the Public Health Service. At present the extent of the intramural and extramural research activity is good but the magnitude of the problem merits additional support (see 2, 4, and 7) in the near future. Subject to the policies of the NIH, this increased support should be both in the intramural and extramural activities. To facilitate aging research and communication, these activities should be carried out by one organization, a National Institute of Gerontology.
(6) As a scientist, I do not wish to comment upon the practical applicability of specific research findings for the improvement of the physical and social status of the aged, even though I recognize the importance of this question. I can only say that we should understand the nature and causes of aging in living systems and, to this end, a considerable research effort is necessary.
(c) I would suggest a threefold increase during the next 10 years in the support of basic research into the nature and causes of aging in living systems, additional recruitment of able scientists into this area, consideration the advisability of organizing additional groups concerned with aging research and the need for increasing the number of large block grants for periods of 10 years or longer.Verner J. Wulff.