Research approach

Interdisciplinary Research

The IAF follows a broad interdisciplinary approach. Depending on the requirements, expertise from other research areas of the OST - Ostschweizer Fachhochschule (e.g. in the fields of health, social work, economics or technology) is incorporated. With this approach, the complexity of social change and the resulting questions and problems can be better understood and dealt with. We collaborate with universities in Germany and other countries on research projects.

Quantitative and qualitative methods

We successfully use standardised methods for data collection in order to determine the general conditions and future demand scenarios or to investigate specific questions for larger groups of people. We conduct surveys by means of questionnaires and online surveys, depending on the target group and their accessibility. This makes it possible to gather representative data that provides a relevant decision-making basis for politics, institutions and organisations.

To collect specific information, the IAF uses qualitative data-collection tools, such as interviews, group discussions, focus groups and methods of content analysis. This allows detailed data to be compiled to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomena. The information obtained in this way should facilitate socially relevant and successful decisions.

Participatory research

Participation plays an important role at the IAF. Research should not only be conducted on older adults but with them. They should play an active role in the entire research process – from finding a topic, to implementing and evaluating a research project. Depending on the purpose of the research, other actors can be involved in the participatory process alongside the researchers and older adults. Only by involving all the actors concerned in the research process is it possible to obtain valid findings and develop socially acceptable and sustainable solutions. The IAF has two groups of participatory older adults: one in St. Gallen (since 2015) and one in the Lake Constance area (since 2016).


Experts from specific research areas at the OST (e.g., social work, health, business, or technology) are involved whenever necessary. In addition, external cooperation is maintained with other colleges and universities in Switzerland and abroad.