A Randomized Controlled Trial to Promote Volunteering in Older Adults
1German Centre of Gerontology, Germany
2Freie Universitšt Berlin, Germany
3Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
Background: Volunteering is presumed to confer health benefits, but interventions to encourage older adults to volunteer are sparse. Methods: An RCT with n = 280 community-dwelling older adults was conducted to test a theory-based social-cognitive intervention for volunteering (VIG) against a passive control group (PCG) and an active control group for physical activity (ACG). Self-reports of weekly volunteering were assessed at baseline (T1), two (T2) and six weeks (T3) after the intervention. Controls were age, gender, education, partner status and number of illnesses. Findings: The latent change model fitted well, ?2(2) = 4.41, p = .11, RMSEA = 0.07, CFI = 0.99, SRMR = 0.02. All groups developed similarly from T1 to T2. Volunteering change from T2 to T3 was associated with assignment to the ACG versus VIG (? = -.23, p = .02) and PCG versus VIG (? = -.26, p = .01), indicating a steeper increase of volunteering from T2 to T3 in the VIG as compared to both other groups. Discussion: A single face-to-face group session can increase volunteering among older community-dwelling adults. The effects, however, need time to unfold, as changes in volunteering were apparent at T3 but not T2.