Older people as co-researchers: a collaborative journey

J. Bindels, V. Baur, K. Cox, S. Heijing, T. Abma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years there has been a distinguishable trend towards user involvement in ageing research. Researchers and policy makers both are increasingly convinced that user involvement is necessary to adapt research questions and methods to meet the needs of older people. Little is known, however, about the quality of collaborations between older people and researchers. This study systematically evaluates a collaboration undertaken between two academic researchers and three older people acting as co-researchers in an effort to identify the conditions required for equal collaboration. To evaluate the collaboration the co-researchers and academic researchers took part in individual in-depth interviews (after six months) and two reflection meetings (after six and.. months). Throughout the collaboration, field notes were taken by both academic researchers and co-researchers. A detailed description of the collaboration is provided here, using the metaphor of a journey to illustrate the dynamics and the learning process of the participants. Interim reflection meetings - at which mutual expectations were expressed along with a frank discussion of prejudices, tasks and role divisions, and the sharing of personal and project-related needs and information - were found to be fruitful in achieving a positive working relationship and fostering an effective collaboration. We conclude that a learning perspective on participation can be a resource for learning and adaptive change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-973
Number of pages23
JournalAgeing & Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • co-researchers
  • patient participation
  • consumer participation
  • user involvement
  • collaboration
  • reflection

Cite this

Bindels, J., Baur, V., Cox, K., Heijing, S., & Abma, T. (2014). Older people as co-researchers: a collaborative journey. Ageing & Society, 34(6), 951-973. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X12001298