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Disabil Health J. 2014 Jan;7(1 Suppl):S51-9. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2013.08.002. Epub 2013 Oct 4.

Bridging network divides: building capacity to support aging with disability populations through research.

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Simmons College, School of Social Work, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Electronic address:


Federal and state efforts to rebalance long-term services and supports (LTSS) in favor of home and community based over institutional settings has helped create structural bridges between the historically separated aging and disability LTSS networks by integrating and/or linking aging and disability systems. These changes present new opportunities to study bridging mechanisms and program related outcomes at national and local levels through federally sponsored LTSS initiatives termed Rebalancing programs. Rebalancing programs also offer opportunities to explore and understand the capacity of LTSS networks (age integrated or linked aging and disability systems) to serve aging with disability populations, persons who live with long-term chronic conditions or impairments such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, intellectual or developmental disabilities. To date, there is limited evidence based LTSS program and practice knowledge about this heterogeneous population such as met and unmet needs or interventions to support healthy aging. Efforts that center on bridging the larger fields of aging and disability in order to build new knowledge and engage in knowledge translation and translational research are critical for building capacity to support persons aging with disability in LTSS. Generating the investment in bridging aging and disability research across stakeholder group, including researchers and funders, is vital for these efforts.


Aging; Bridging; Disability; Long-term services and supports; Public policy

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