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URPP Dynamics of Healthy Aging

Psychological Health Stabilization / Resilience II


Development of an online-based intervention for alleviating loneliness in older adults

The aim of this project is to develop an internet-based psychological self-help program for alleviating loneliness in older adults. A particular focus is on adapting the intervention to the needs and resources of older adults. In a second step, the effectiveness of the intervention is evaluated. The project involves a qualitative study as well as a randomized controlled trial.

Project status: ongoing (2020 – 2023)
Contact: Christine Dworschak, MSc. (Principal Investigator), Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker (Co-Principal Investigator) and PD Dr. Eva Heim (Co-Principal Investigator)



Trauma metaphors in Swiss Travellers in old age

The aim of this qualitative study is to investigate how older adults experience traumatic events and which metaphors and other linguistic expressions they use when talking about it. The plan is to examine different groups of older adults who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events in the past or present. The first group to be examined will be older Swiss Travellers. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted for this purpose. The focus of the study is not on personal stories of suffering, but on the general experience and the general language customs of this age group.

Project status: ongoing (2020 - 2023)
Contact: Sandra Rossi, MSc. (Principal Investigator), Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker (Co-Principal Investigator) and Prof. Dr. Eva Heim (Co-Principal Investigator)



Differential aging trajectories in high-risk individuals with past experiences of early adversity

It is the overarching aim of this project to identify the determinants and underlying mechanisms associated with past experiences of early-life adversity within a welfare context, which differentiate detrimental outcomes and trajectories from relative unharmed (resilient) or maybe also positive outcomes and trajectories in later life. This is a prospective longitudinal study with a mid- to older-aged Swiss cohort of persons that were affected by compulsory social measures and placements (CSMP) in their childhood and/or adolescence. This study examines outcomes and trajectories of psychological and physical health over time, as well as related vulnerability and resilience factors.

Project status: ongoing (2018 – 2022)
Contact: PD Dr. Myriam Thoma (Principal Investigator) and Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker (Co-Principal Investigator)



Health and resilience following stress or adversity: Psychological factors associated with positive health outcomes in older adults with varying experiences of early childhood adversity

It was the aim of this project to investigate underlying psychological, environmental, and cultural mechanisms of resilience, which may explain differences in the health and well-being of older adults with past experiences of adversity. Building on the previous research with Swiss former Verdingkinder of the research group, this project assessed coping and resilience in Irish older adults with varying experiences of stress or adversity, including survivors of childhood institutional maltreatment. It involved a two-part, mixed methods study: A cross-sectional, quantitative survey using standardized questionnaires, and qualitative semi-structured interviews.

Project status: completed in 2020
Contact: Dr. Shauna Rohner (Principal Investigator) and PD Dr. Myriam Thoma (Co-Principal Investigator)



Healthy aging despite the odds – mechanisms behind the steeling effect

This project aimed to investigate potential strengthening or steeling processes in response to the experience of childhood adversity and their hypothesized impact on healthy ageing. The project consisted of two sub-studies: a qualitative interview study with N = 12 successfully aged older Swiss former indentured child laborers (aged 50 years or older), i.e. Verdingkinder (Sub-Study I) and a quantitative longitudinal survey study with a convenience sample (over N = 300; aged 50 years or older) with two assessments one year apart (Sub-Study II).

Project status: completed in 2018
Contact: Dr. Jan Hoeltge (Principal Investigator) and PD Dr. Myriam Thoma (Co-Principal Investigator)



Motivational reserve in old age and models of healthy aging in a medical sample

This project aimed at examining motivational reserve as a protective factor in mild Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Motivational reserve (MR) is defined as a set of motivational abilities that provide the individual with resilience to neuropathological damage. Motivational abilities include decision regulation, activation regulation, motivation regulation, and self-efficacy. In the four-wave prospective longitudinal study, the predictive value of MR on MCI stability and conversion to dementia was investigated.

Project status: completed in 2017
Contact: Prof. Dr. Simon Forstmeier (Principal Investigator) and  Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker (Co-Principal Investigator)



Psychological health stabilization in Swiss Verdingkinder in old age

This project investigated former Verdingkinder and their offspring in a prospective longitudinal study. Particular focus of this study was on the long-term impact of early-life adversity on mental health in older age as well as on the impact of PTSD on biological aging processes. Further, this study examined the impact of parental rearing behavior in the transgenerational conveyance of parental childhood adversity and filial psychological health.

Project status: Completed in 2016
Contact: Dr. Dr. Zoya Marinova (Principal Investigator) and  Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker (Co-Principal Investigator)

Weiterführende Informationen

Bild von Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker

Head of Research Group

Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker

Principal Investigator

Bild von Dr. Myriam Thoma

Co-Head of Research Group

Dr. Myriam Thoma

Co-Head Research Group