GSA Creates COVID-19 Decision Aid for Social Situations

For Immediate Release
September 30, 2020

Contact: Todd Kluss
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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has developed a COVID-19 decision aid to help people make an informed decision when they consider interacting with other people or taking part in activities outside their home.

This interactive tool (also available in PDF format in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin) is designed to help people determine what their risk tolerance and risk factors are. It guides users through a series of questions that are based on their interests and the activity’s level of risk. Working step-by-step through this decision aid may help individuals clarify the reasons for doing or not doing an activity where other people are present.

“The need for this type of decision aid became clear as GSA COVID-19 Task Force members talked to colleagues, friends, and family,” said Lisa M. Brown, PhD, ABPP, FGSA, of Palo Alto University, who was one of the decision aid’s authors. “While it cannot tell a person to do or not do an activity, the aid is very helpful in getting a full picture of risk.”

Cities are imposing a variety of rules or guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19 such as promoting physical distancing and using face masks. These rules and guidelines will continue to change over time. For example, rules may change in response to increased numbers of people with COVID-19, new findings from research studies, or poor control of a COVID-19 outbreak in a specific area.

As a result of these ongoing changes, some may feel uncertain when choosing whether to visit friends and family members in person, or when to participate in activities in public places. The decision aid is intended to help users make a more informed decision. It is intended for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms nor have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 during the previous two weeks. It is not intended to replace the advice of a health care provider.

“This type of tool follows the science of both COVID-19 and risk communication with adults,” said Aaron Scherer, PhD, of the University of Iowa, another decision aid co-author. “We have received a lot of positive feedback and are hopeful that it will continue to help people as they navigate the pandemic.”


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.

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