Aging, Community and Health Research Group (ACHRU)

McMaster University

Study 14

EMBOLDEN Trial: Partnering with Older Adults and Communities to Develop and Test a Community-Based Program to Enhance Physical and Community Mobility in Older Adults


Getting out socially and moving about physically can help maintain independence and quality of life for adults 55 years of age and older. Community programs designed to support these activities may be highly effective, but many older adults face barriers accessing them. Co-design is an approach that engages target populations and other stakeholders with researchers. The aim is to co-design new programs that align with and leverage existing community programs, address service gaps, and meet community needs that will be evaluated through research. Experiences of older adults and community service providers are critical partners in this work.

The overall goal of the EMBOLDEN research program is to promote physical and community mobility of older adults who experience difficulties participating in community programs and reside in communities of high health inequity. Building on existing best practices and local evidence, researchers together with local older adults and community service providers will co-design an innovative community-based program to promote mobility amongst community-dwelling older adults.

Following the co-design of the intervention, the study (a pragmatic mixed methods randomized controlled trial) will evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the EMBOLDEN program. Evidence of feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of the program will provide a foundation to assess the potential to sustain the program and test it in other communities. The EMBOLDEN research program is an interdisciplinary research initiative of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging and draws on the expertise of several Faculties and academic units.


McMaster Institute for Research on AgingLabarge Centre for Mobility in AgingCanadian Institutes of Health Research Patient Oriented Research Catalyst Grant

In-kind support from the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit at McMaster University

Study Partners:

Hamilton Public HealthHamilton Public LibraryAge Friendly HamiltonCityHousing HamiltonUnited Way Halton & HamiltonCity of HamiltonHamilton Council on AgingYMCA of Hamilton, Burlington, BrantfordYWCA Hamilton, Compass Community Health, Good Shepherd, St Matthew’s House, Hamilton Transit


Research Summary

Webinar: MIRA partner Lancaster University recently featured Dr. Rebecca Ganann and Dr. Sarah Neil-Sztramko speaking on, “Applying co-design methods to development and testing of a novel intervention to support inequities in older adults: The EMBOLDEN Study”.  Watch the recording here

News: EMBOLDEN Team Launches it's First Co-Design Event in Hamilton



The infographics below provide an overview of some of key characteristics of the City of Hamilton and specific neighbourhoods within Hamilton. They were developed as a tool for sharing with our study partners (e.g., health and social service providers, citizens) as we move forward with co-designing the EMBOLDEN research program.







Riverdale West




  • Rebecca Ganann
    Assistant Professor
    McMaster University School of Nursing
    MIRA Collaborative for Health and Aging
  • Stuart Phillips
    Director Physical Activity Centre of Excellence (PACE)
    McMaster University
    Department of Kinesiology
  • Courtney Kennedy
    Associate Scientific Director, GERAS Centre
    McMaster University
    Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine
  • Bruce Newbold
    McMaster University
    School of Geography & Earth Sciences
  • Elizabeth Alvarez
    Assistant Professor
    McMaster University
    Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact
  • Sarah Neil-Sztramko
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    McMaster University
    School of Nursing
  • Ruta Valaitis
    McMaster University
    School of Nursing
  • Ayse Kuspinar
    Assistant Professor
    McMaster University
    School of Rehabilitation Science
  • Diana Sherifali
  • James Gillett
  • Marla Beauchamp
  • Julia Abelson
  • George Ioannidis
  • Terry Flynn
  • Pasquelina Santaguida
  • Chris Verschoor
  • Gina Agarwal
  • Maureen Markle-Reid
  • Meridith Griffin
  • Carol Bassim
  • Parminder Raina
  • Lehana Thabane
  • Heather Keller
  • Kathryn Fisher
  • Ivo Vassilev
  • Caroline Moore
  • Giulia Coletta
  • Davneet Sihota
  • Amy Wang
  • Abbira Nadarajah
  • Kylie Teggart
  • Elizabeth Orr
  • Mainka Tandon
  • Maggie MacNeil

Publications and Activities relating to this study:

EMBOLDEN Trial Research Summary: A Community-Based Program to Enhance Physical and Community Mobility in Older Adults

The study team will co-design, implement and evaluate an innovative community-based intervention with the goal of improved physical and community mobility, nutrition, and social participation in older adults.

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