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Background As the population ages, older adults are seeking meaningful, and impactful, post-retirement roles. As a society, improving the health of people throughout longer lives is a major public health goal. This paper presents the design and rationale for an effectiveness trial of Experience Corps?, an intervention created to address both these needs. This trial evaluates (1) whether senior volunteer roles within Experience Corps? beneficially impact children's academic achievement and classroom behavior in public elementary schools and (2) impact on the health of volunteers. Methods Dual evaluations of (1) an intention-to-treat trial randomizing eligible adults 60 and older to volunteer service in Experience Corps?, or to a control arm of usual volunteering opportunities, and (2) a comparison of eligible public elementary schools receiving Experience Corps? to matched, eligible control schools in a 1:1 control:intervention school ratio. Outcomes For older adults, the primary outcome is decreased disability in mobility and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL). Secondary outcomes are decreased frailty, falls, and memory loss; slowed loss of strength, balance, walking speed, cortical plasticity, and executive function; objective performance of IADLs; and increased social and psychological engagement. For children, primary outcomes are improved reading achievement and classroom behavior in Kindergarten through the 3rd grade; secondary outcomes are improvements in school climate, teacher morale and retention, and teacher perceptions of older adults. Summary This trial incorporates principles and practices of community-based participatory research and evaluates the dual benefit of a single intervention, versus usual opportunities, for two generations: older adults and children.
Originally Published In
Contemporary clinical trials
Fried, Linda P.; Carlson, Michelle C.; McGill, Sylvia; Seeman, Teresa; Xue, Qian-Li; Frick, Kevin; Tan, Erwin; Tanner, Elizabeth K.; Barron, Jeremy; Frangakis, Constantine; Piferi, Rachel; Martinez, Iveris; Gruenewald, Tara; Martin, Barbara K.; Berry-Vaughn, Laprisha; Stewart, John; Dickersin, Kay; and Willging, Paul R., "Experience Corps: A dual trial to promote the health of older adults and children's academic success" (2014). All Faculty. 57.
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