The Baltimore Experience Corps trial: Enhancing generativity via intergenerational activity engagement in later life

Tara L. Gruenewald, Elizabeth K. Tanner, Linda P. Fried, Michelle C. Carlson, Qian Li Xue, Jeanine M. Parisi, George W. Rebok, Lisa M. Yarnell, Teresa E. Seeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: Being and feeling generative, defined as exhibiting concern and behavior to benefit others, is an important developmental goal of midlife and beyond. Although a growing body of evidence suggests mental and physical health benefits of feeling generative in later life, little information exists as to the modifiability of generativity perceptions. The present study examines whether participation in the intergenerational civic engagement program, Experience Corps (EC), benefits older adults' self-perceptions of generativity. Method: Levels of generativity were compared in older adults randomized to serve as EC volunteers or controls (usual volunteer opportunities) in the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial at 4-, 12-, and 24-month evaluation points over the 2-year trial. Analyses utilized intention-to-treat and complier average causal effects (CACE) analyses which incorporate degree of intervention exposure in analytic models. Results: Participants randomized to the EC group had significantly higher levels of generative desire and perceptions of generative achievement than controls at each follow-up point; CACE analyses indicate a dose-response effect with a greater magnitude of intervention effect with greater exposure to the EC program. Discussion: Results provide the first-ever, large-scale experimental demonstration that participation in an intergenerational civic engagement program can positively alter self-perceptions of generativity in older adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-670
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume71
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Keywords

  • Civic engagement
  • Generativity
  • Intergenerational
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Social engagement
  • Volunteerism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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