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RG Psychiatric Epidemiology and Demographic Change


Head of the Research Group

apl. Prof. Dr. Siegfried Weyerer




Together with biology and the natural sciences, as well as clinical research, epidemiology constitutes one of the three pillars of medical science. Besides the identification of the risk and causal factors behind disease, the practical importance of psychiatric epidemiology lies above all in:

  • the development of methods for the prevention and treatment of disease and the rehabilitation of patients, as well as the development of the pertinent tests of the efficacy and risks of such methods; and in
  • the evaluation of the institutions and systems responsible for providing care to the mentally ill.

Increasing longevity and a stagnating low birth rate have affected all areas of modern life, particularly in terms of the epidemiology of mental and physical disorders and the provision of care for those affected. Alterations in morbidity, as well as the future demand for care-providing institutions, will be determined to a great extent by the changing demographics. The main task of the RG is the planning, coordination and implementation of research projects in the area of descriptive and analytical epidemiology of psychiatric and physical disorders in old age:

  • studies on the frequency, course, risks and consequences of mental disorders and functional limitations at different levels of care (community, general practitioners; outpatient, semi-inpatient, and inpatient institutions),
  • changes in health and demographics,
  • development and testing of assessment and screening instruments,
  • determinants and effects of multi-morbidity and multi-medication (pharmaco-epidemiology),
  • study of the relationship between age and quantitatively important mental problems such as depression and at-risk consumption of alcohol,
  • analysis of disorder course, and risks of mortality and institutionalisation among individuals with a dementia disorder in the general population,
  • exploration of the life situation and health risks of formal and informal caregivers,
  • development of guidelines for dementia care, and
  • evaluation of medical and psychosocial intervention programmes and care systems.

Within the framework of the ZI-collaboration with the World Health Organization the RG is responsible for the development of concepts and evaluation of innovative models of long-term care for people with dementia.

Universität Heidelberg, Abteilung für Psychologische Alternsforschung (Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Wahl)

  • Studien zur Pflegebedürftigkeit in Deutschland
  • Institutionelle Versorgung älterer Menschen
  • Arbeitsbedingungen in geriatrischen Einrichtungen

Universität Heidelberg, Gerontologisches Institut (Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse)

  • Lebensqualität im höheren Lebensalter
  • Mitarbeit im Beirat des H.I.L.D.E. Projekts

BMBF-Projekt „Degenerative Demenzen“ (AgeCoDe)

BMBF-Projekte „Gesundheit im Alter“ (MulitCare)

BMBF-Projekt „Gesundheit im Alter“ (Depression im höheren Alter - AgeMooDe)

Projektpartner: Health and Demographic Changes (EU-Projekt INTERREG IV)

Zentralinstitut für Seelische Gesundheit (ZI) - https://www.zi-mannheim.de