Development of Virtual Surveys for the COVID-19 Wave of the AGELESS Longitudinal Study in Malaysia
<b><i>Background:</i></b> Rapid population aging occurring in developing nations necessitates innovation to ensure we continue to gain ground on aging research despite pandemic threats. While developed nations have resorted to virtual communications, this is challenging in developing nations due to poor internet connectivity and digital literacy. <b><i>Objectives:</i></b> The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of virtual data collection for a longitudinal study of aging
... cognitive frailty in a middle-income Southeast Asian country. <b><i>Methods:</i></b> The Transforming Cognitive Frailty into Later-Life Self-Sufficiency (AGELESS) longitudinal study of aging involved community-dwelling participants aged 60 years and above. A semi-structured focus group discussion was conducted via videoconferencing with selected representatives from existing participants. The survey instrument was compiled during a hybrid meeting and refined using a virtual Delphi process involving 51 AGELESS investigators. The final draft survey and recruitment strategy were then piloted among selected participants. <b><i>Results:</i></b> Twelve individuals participated in the virtual focus group interview. Smartphone, tablet computer, laptops, and desktop personal computers were used for information gathering, communication, banking, shopping, leisure, religion, and education, within this group. The survey instrument was redacted from 362 items in 18 sections to 141 items in 12 sections through 3 virtual Delphi rounds facilitated by email, social media messaging, and videoconferencing which attracted 213 comments. Of 45 participants selected for the pilot survey, 30 were successfully contacted after one attempt and 18 completed the survey. Cognitive frailty was present in 13%, cognitive impairment in 20%, frailty in 20%, and 47% were robust. <b><i>Conclusion:</i></b> A virtual survey instrument was developed for the AGELESS longitudinal survey of aging which was vital for determining the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our older population as well as sustaining research into aging despite barriers posed by the pandemic.