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Academic Staff

Dr Ivy Zhao
PolyU Scholars Hub

Dr Yan Ivy ZHAO

Deputy Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) for Community Health Services


Ivy Zhao is currently a Research Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). She obtained her BSc in Nursing at Wuhan University, China; MSc in Health Promotion at Ole Miss: The University of Mississippi, United States; and PhD in Nursing at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), New Zealand. She received her postdoctoral training in School of Nursing, PolyU. Before she came to Hong Kong, she also worked in Age Concern Auckland, a nationwide NGO providing specialized services and support for older adults in New Zealand.

Ivy is a dedicated researcher focusing on healthy ageing, cognitive health, auditory rehabilitation for older adults and digital health. Over the past three years, she has been actively developing various home-based social robot-assisted interventions for improving loneliness, depressive symptoms and other psychosocial well-being issues in older adults and their family caregivers. She is also developing an fMRI paradigm to explore functional brain network engagement in relationship to changes in loneliness and cognitive performance after a robot-mediated interactive intervention. Ivy has successfully secured funding from the Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) to support her robotic study.

To fill the service gap in Hong Kong and internationally, as the first inventor, she and her team have developed an online game-like dual task hearing-cognitive training system 聽聰智明 (US Provisional Patent: PAT-1637-US-PSP) for older adults with hearing loss. The study team has received the 1st runner up Award and Co-innovation Award in Health Future Challenge 2023 of PolyU and Translational Research Grant from the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences.

Ivy is an active member of World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Community Health Services (WHO CC) and Centre of Evidence-based Practice for Health Care Policy. She serves as an ICOPE trainer, supporting the implementation of the Integrated Care for Older People (ICOPE) model at county level. She currently maintains extensive collaborations with local and international healthcare stakeholders, government authorities, and community organizations to facilitate the adoption and integration of the ICOPE model into existing healthcare systems.


Research Interests

  • Assistive robot-mediated intevention for improving psychosocial wellbeing of older people
  • Auditory-cognitive training intervention for people with age-related hearing loss
  • Healthy aging
  • Technology and aging
  • Cognitive health
  • Gerontological nursing
  • Age-friendly community in rural area

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