Austrian Society for Geriatrics and Gerontology
Österreichische Gesellschaft für Geriatrie und Gerontologie (ÖGGG)
The Austrian Society for Geriatrics and Gerontology was established in 1955. It is a non-profit organization, a scientific association with the aims of promoting research of aging and of geriatric and gerontologic knowledge.
The society is involved in:
- Research of the aging process and disease in the elderly
- Study of the social and economic consequences of aging
- Elaboration of guidelines for the care of the elderly, promotion of health and social standing of the elderly
- Organization of scientific meetings on the topic of geriatrics and gerontology
- Cooperation with international scientific societies and associations in the field of aging research and geriatrics
The society has four sections:
- The geriatric section
- The section of biogerontology
- The section of social gerontology
- The section of clinical gerontology
The journal of the Austrian society is Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie (ZfGG).
At present, the society counts approximately 400 members.
Every other year, the annual meeting of the society is being organized jointly with the German Geriatric Society either in Vienna or in Berlin. In the years in between, since 1956 the traditional venue for the annual meeting is Bad Hofgastein.
To honor extraordinary achievements and to stimulate research in geriatrics and gerontology the Austrian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology sponsors the annual “Walter Doberauer Grant” named after its founding president.
The President of the Austrian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Regina Roller-Wirnsberger
Medizinische Universität Graz
Universitätsklinik für Innere Medizin
Auenbrugger Platz 15
The society’s secretariat:
Training and research in geriatrics and gerontology in Austria
Training Austrian medical students in gerontology and geriatrics exists predominantly as non-obligatory lectures and seminars within the individual clinical subjects. The establishment of a chair of geriatrics has been the topic of discussion for many years, only the small private Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg has established one; the three large state medical universities do not have one.
Gerontosociological training and research at the University of Vienna’s Institute of Sociology (Univ.Prof. Dr. L. Rosenmayr, Prof.A.Amann, Prof.F.Kolland) has a much longer tradition and greater international recognition.
The Institute of Physiology at the University for Veterinary Medicine in Vienna also has a long, internationally recognized tradition in fundamental research into the biology of aging.
Several institutes of the Ludwig Boltzmann Society (a research foundation sponsored by the federal government, the City of Vienna and a public foundation) are active in geriatric and gerontological research, particularly the Ludwig Boltzmann Institutes for Aging Research (Prof. Dr. Heinz Tragl) and for Rehabilitation in Geriatrics (Dr. Katharina Pils).
In 1993, the Austrian Academy of Science created the Institute for Biomedical Research of Ageing in Innsbruck, presently headed by Univ.Prof. Dr. Beatrix Grubeck-Loebenstein. Its main fields of research are the endocrinology, immunology, pathology, molecular and cell-biology of the ageing human organism.
Since more than 20 years the Austrian Society for Geriatrics and Gerontology is organizing postgraduate training in geriatrics and gerontology in collaboration with the Austrian Medical Association. After 8 two-day seminars to be completed in the course of one and a half years and a final exam, the participating physicians receive a diploma. The curriculum covers the basics of the biology of ageing, gerontosociology, gerontopsychology and selected topics in clinical geriatrics presented by qualified clinicians, researchers and other experts. So far approximately 1100 physicians have completed the required curriculum and received the diploma.
The still missing implantation of gerontology and geriatrics at Austria’s three large public Medical Universities is partly responsible for the negative attitude of many of the responsible political and professional representatives towards the creation of a specialty, or subspecialty postgraduate curriculum in geriatrics. At present, the ministry of health has established a working group with the goal of conceptualizing geriatrics as a subspecialty of internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry, physical medicine/rehabilitation and general medicine.
Geriatric structures in Austria
The predominant institutions of geriatric long-term care – the nursing homes – are institutions of public welfare, and thus not part of the national health insurance plan. This segment of geriatric care is thus separated from the health care system; moreover, it has to function without an efficient link to structures of acute geriatric cared.
Until very recently, institutional geriatrics in Austria has been associated only with such structures of long-term or intermediate care. Geriatric care does happen in these institutions in quite an inhomogeneous way as far as quality of care is concerned. Especially geriatric rehabilitation is often lacking in frequency, intensity and quality. Systematic global geriatric assessment is being applied to only a small proportion of the patients admitted to nursing homes.
Specific needs of the geriatric patient are not yet being sufficiently met by the health care system in the existing hospital structures. Approximately 10 years ago, the question arose, whether the creation of special wards and departments meeting such needs would be necessary.
Realizing this, the Austrian Federal Institute for Health Care (ÖBIG) mainly dealing with analyzing and planning structures of the health care system and advising federal and local health care providers delegated this topic to a group of experts, including many members of the ÖGGG. In 1999 the creation of a network of special units for the treatment of geriatric patients in the acute care sector of the health care system was proposed.
The Austrian federal agency regulating the health care system adopted this proposal in 2000 and decided to demand the provincial health planning authorities to create such a network of geriatric acute care departments and units all over Austria. Until the year 2010 there will be approximately 3.700 beds dedicated to geriatric acute care integrated into existing hospitals in 61 locations. Approximately 40 such units or departments are already active and achieving remarkable outcomes for their patients. The Austrian Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology initiated the development of a benchmarking system for these geriatric acute care structures – its implementation started in 2008, it is based primarily on comprehensive geriatric assessment, the elements of which have been standardized for use by all the geriatric institutions in Austria by the society.