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Modelling of the Impact of Covid-19 on Public Health of Elderly People in Latvia and Iceland

Project/agreement No.
FM2021/23 (EEZ/NOFI/DIV)
Project funding
49 987.00 EUR
Project manager
Project realization
01.04.2021. - 30.09.2023.


The aim of the initiative is to strengthen bilateral relations between Latvia and the donorstate Iceland, by promoting scientific and socioeconomically significant cooperation by the means of using innovative methods to understand and overcome the consequences of Covid-19 crisis among the elderly.


The project is implemented under the EEA Financial Instrument and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021. within the framework of the Bilateral Cooperation Fund initiative.

Cooperation is planned between the Icelandic and Latvian scientific institutions to understand the impact of Covid-19 on health, social psychological aspects and economic opportunities of the elderly population. In 2020 fieldwork was conducted in Latvia before and after the pandemic, thus creating a database "Study on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe" (the eight wave of the SHARE survey is conducted throughout the European Union in 2020).

The data is available in Latvia and will enable to compare and understand data before and after Covid-19 pandemic for nearly 1400 respondents over the age of 50. The main focus of the research will be on the issues of social exclusion, access of health services, economic stress, mental health and well-being. Similar to the SHARE database, Iceland’s study on population aging HL20 is available to researchers from other countries, thus facilitating cooperation between researchers of different countries. 

Latvian researchers, using the acquired models from the SHARE database and together with the researchers of Iceland, and by using data on population of the respective country, will conduct evaluation of the scale of the impact, using statistical calculations of probability for several risk groups of population of Latvia and Iceland. 
As Iceland has a very knowledgeable scientific team, which has been conducting an ongoing multidisciplinary research in geriatrics and social care, it is essential to continue the cooperation in order to provide the society of Latvia with an in-depth scientific explanation of SHARE results, as well as to gain an opportunity to apply our methods and models to the analysis of population of Iceland, and use the abovementioned for the development of sociopolitical innovations in both countries.

The activities planned within the frameworks of the project include a seminar in Iceland for engaging and strengthening cooperation and planning, followed by a remote statistical modelling seminar in Latvia together with Icelandic experts. It has been planned to organise seminars in Latvia, bringing together stakeholders from public administration and groups of society with the aim to educate and inform the society.

The project is implemented in collaboration with The Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) at the University of Iceland.

Activities of the project

  • Meeting of Latvian and Icelandic experts in Iceland 
  • SHARE data processing and interpretation of the impact of Covid-19 
  • Practical remote seminar on data modelling and further cooperation in data processing and interpretation, practice
  • Seminars for researchers, stakeholders and population ageing policy makers in Latvia
  • Preparation of scientific publication and popular science publications
  • Provision of project administration 
  • Costs of a qualified auditor for the verification of the documents supporting the initiative


Data modeling seminars were held in Latvia

Intensive work in the next phase of the bilateral cooperation project took place remotely on the Zoom platform. During the week from December 12 to 19, 2022, six project experts met for three full working days to review the refined results, as well as to select the most important information for presentation to different target groups. At times, the seminar was also held in breakout groups, for example, on the structure of a scientific article, selected journals for publication, choice of relevant references and statistical issues. Two experts from the University of Iceland and four RSU experts agreed on the topics that should be highlighted in each partner country, as well as on the division of responsibilities, continuing the work on the development of a scientific publication and popular scientific articles.


Updated: 30 December 2022

Meeting of Latvian and Iceland experts in Iceland

During a three-day visit to the University of Iceland from November 29 to December 1, 2022, RSU researchers jointly reviewed the set of statistical calculations completed so far in order to continue modeling activities with Icelandic data. Already in the project application, it was mentioned that the available data are not directly comparable due to the different research methodology, therefore a lot of time was dedicated to the selection of various factors of healthy aging society, based on the theoretical discussion between the leading experts of the two universities. During the seminar, a statistical model was jointly created, covering the available Latvian and Icelandic data. It is still being refined, but the basis of the model allows us to see the similar and diverging trends between the two countries, generating four main indicators of healthy aging. In order to get a more complete picture of the Icelandic social and health care system, as well as the research conducted on elderly people in Iceland, the RSU research group had the opportunity to listen to specially prepared presentations by the management and researchers of the University of Iceland.

The working group includes three RSU and two experts from the University of Iceland. In December, the international data modeling work, literature analysis, creation of a joint scientific article structure and compilation of results for the seminars planned in 2023 with researchers, representatives of state and local governments, as well as non-governmental organizations will continue.


Updated on December 5, 2022

Research results of the 3rd work package

In 2015, The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed Healthy Ageing Strategy, which defines healthy aging as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age.” According to the WHO, healthy ageing is characterized by such interrelated determinants as intrinsic capacity, functional ability and environment. An individual's intrinsic capacity is a powerful predictor of the future ageing process and includes 5 areas - cognitive, psychological, sensory, locomotion and vitality. Exploration of these areas can provide necessary information for therapeutic and preventive actions that can be tailored to an individual's needs, priorities and values to support participation and quality of life.

In order to assess the ageing processes of the Latvian population, a healthy aging index (HAI) is being developed according to WHO conceptual model, also including factors associated with Covid-19 pandemics. The next step is to evaluate and model healthy aging indicators by using the Norwegian (NorLag) database.


During the development of healthy ageing index the data from SHARE survey (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) from wave 7 (2017) and wave 8, incl. Covid-19 add-on module (2019/2020) are used.

In order to determine the prognostic ability of the developed index within Wave 7 and Wave 8 of SHARE survey those EU member states were selected for whom the information of factors included in HAI index were available (see figure 1 and figure 2).


Figure 1 –  Selected EU countries from Wave 7 of SHARE survey (n = 12 159)


Figure 2 –  Selected EU countries from Wave 8 of SHARE survey (n = 7 925)

During the development of HAI index from more than 250 potential healthy ageing indicators within exploratory and literature analysis, the amount was reduced to 58 most common factors, covering all 5 intrinsic capacity determinants.

The items were analyzed by exploratory factor analysis using the Principal Component Analysis. Investigation of initial communality and consequent extraction of factors by Varimax rotation method showed the share of 25 items in the questionnaire higher than 0.30, all other items were removed. The analysis yielded 6 dimensions explaining total of 57.40% of the variance.

According to factor analysis two versions of HAI index were created – version HAI-19 covers all five intrinsic capacity factors, while version HAI-25 also includes factors associated with Covid-19 pandemics. Information about factors included in HAI index is provided in figure 3.  


Figure 3 – Factors included in HAI index

In further analysis all factors were transformed from Likert-type answers to points from 0 to 100 (where 0 points indicate of negative result (worsening status) and 100 points indicate more positive result). The mean value for each participant were calculated according to the version of developed index. The distribution of developed HAI index values for the population of Latvia is provided in figure 4.   


Figure 4 – Distribution of HAI index values for the population of Latvia

In further analysis, the validation of the developed index and the assessment of it’s prognostic ability is performed.

Updated on October 29.2021.