Community participation of community dwelling older adults: a cross-sectional study

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Background: With the advancing age of the population, and increasing demands on healthcare services, community participation has become an important consideration for healthy ageing. Low levels of community participation have been linked to increased mortality and social isolation. The extent to which community participation has been measured objectively in older adults remains scarce. This study aims to describe where and how older adults participate in the community and determine the feasibility of measurement methods for community participation. Methods: This observational cross-sectional study obtained data from 46 community dwelling older adults. A combination of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), accelerometry, and self-reported diaries were used over a 7-day monitoring period. Feasibility of methods were determined by calculating the loss of GPS data, questionnaires, and comparison of self-reported locations with GPS co-ordinates. Relationships between community participation, physical activity, social interactions, health related quality of life, sleep quality and loneliness were explored. Results: Older adults took a median (IQR) of 15 (9.25–18.75) trips out of home over the 7-day monitoring period, most frequently visiting commercial and recreational locations. In-home activities were mainly sedentary in nature, with out of home activities dependent on location type. Self-reported and GPS measures of trips out of home and the locations visited were significantly correlated (self-report 15.7 (5.6) GPS 14.4 (5.8) (r = 0.94)). Significant correlations between both the number of trips taken from home, with social interactions (r = 0.62) and the minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (r = 0.43) were observed. Daily MVPA was higher in participants who visited local walk/greenspaces (r = 0.48). Conclusion: Participants performed more activities with social interactions out of home and visited commercial locations most frequently. The combination of GPS, accelerometry and self-report methods provided a detailed picture of community participation for older adults. Further research is required with older adults of varying health status to generalise the relationships between community participation, location and physical activity. Trial registration: Ethical approval was gained from the Flinders University Social and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee (protocol no. 8176).

Original languageEnglish
Article number612
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2021


  • Accelerometry
  • Community participation
  • Global positioning system
  • Older adults


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