Attention control group activities and perceived benefit in a trial of a behavioral intervention for older adults

Sarah E. LaFave, Marianne Granbom, Thomas K.M. Cudjoe, Alex Gottsch, Gerard Shorb, Sarah L. Szanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Researchers trialing behavioral interventions often use attention control groups, but few publish details on attention control activities or perceived benefit. Attention control groups receive the same dose of interpersonal interaction as intervention participants but no other elements of the intervention, to control for the benefits of attention that may come from behavioral interventions. Because intervention success is analyzed compared to control conditions, it is useful to examine attention control content and outcomes. The purpose of this study is to report on attention control visit activities and their perceived benefit in a randomized control trial. The trial tested an aging-in-place intervention comprised of a series of participant goal-directed visits facilitated by an occupational therapist, nurse, and handyman. The attention control group participants received visits from a lay person. We report on the number and length of visits received, types of visit activities that participants chose, and how much visit time was spent on each activity, based on the attention visitor's records. We report on participant perceptions of benefit based on a 10-item Likert-scale survey. The attention control group participants (n = 148) were cognitively intact, at least 65 years old, with at least one Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. Attention control group participants most often chose conversation (20.1% of visit time), and playing games (18.7%), as visit activities. The majority of attention control group participants (63.4%) reported “a great deal” of perceived benefit. Attention control group visits may be an appropriate comparison in studies of behavioral interventions for community-dwelling older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalResearch in Nursing and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • attention control
  • behavioral intervention
  • community-dwelling older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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