Dr. Harvey’s research in aging has largely focused on the changes in functioning associated with aging in people with severe mental illness. This research has included studies of changes in cognitive performance, functional abilities, and real-world functioning associated with aging and with the severity of illness symptoms such as psychosis, depression, and other mood disturbances.
He is also interested in cross-cultural influences on aging-related changes in functioning, including histories of educational attainment, health care disparities, acculturation to new environments, and health status. He plans to implement studies of factors which influence performance on ability-related tasks and identifying factors other than ability which influence real-world outcomes such as independence in residential status and social functioning.
A final interest is the refinement of relevant and direct assessments of abilities in older people. With the changes associated with aging, such as depression, losses of those close to them, gradual development of physical limitations, and economic factors, it is important to clarify how much of the changes in real-world functioning with aging are associated with ability (cognitive or functional) as compared to other influences. Interventions aimed at improving functioning and happiness must target the actual causes of these problems, in that functional skills training or cognitive enhancement are not likely to improve problems caused by depression or physical limitations.